A group of approximately 40 demonstrators participated in a march on racism formed by local activists. Beginning at TD Bank parking lot in Bay Shore on Sunday afternoon, the protestors peacefully …
A group of approximately 40 demonstrators participated in a march on racism formed by local activists. Beginning at TD Bank parking lot in Bay Shore on Sunday afternoon, the protestors peacefully walked eastbound down Montauk Highway to Islip Veterans Memorial Park in front of Islip Town Hall, where a vigil was then held.
Noah Penn, an organizer of the event, said the march was mainly inspired by marches in Merrick and Smithtown in June. In Merrick, a group of individuals attempted to block protesters from marching through town. In Smithtown, a few days later, an organized counter-protest formed as demonstrators marched through town, and counter-protestors exclaimed racial slurs at those passing by. One protester was even assaulted after the march.
“Initially, when I saw these incidents, I was very taken aback. But then when I thought about it a little more, I said to myself, This is Long Island,” Penn said. “This is how it is, unfortunately.”
Penn continued on to say that Long Island is one of the most segregated areas of the country.
“When you have that environment, you are bound to have fear and paranoia and bigotry and white supremacy and systemic racism,” he said. “It has been like that forever. It has been like that all the way back to when they developed Levittown, and really, nothing has changed. We have gathered here today in unity and in solidarity to say that enough is enough, and we will not stand for it anymore. And we will break those barriers down.”
Joe Tronolone, an organizer and educator in the Brentwood School District, also spoke before the crowd in the parking lot before commencing with the march. Regarding Penn’s points about de facto segregation on Long Island, Tronolone concurred and said the community has pushed back through the years on the topic of halting racism.
“The reactions to the protests this year, three years ago, four years ago, five years ago, six years ago, really has been a toxic and negative one,” Tronolone said, continuing on to discuss systemic racism in the school districts. “On Long Island, we really do need to fight for equity in education and funding and resources, no matter what the zip code is. Unfortunately, the housing discrimination and education discrimination go hand in hand because Long Island has an insane amount of school districts. We really need to look out because the funding of our education mainly comes from property taxes, which right away says that high-income areas are going to have better-funded schools than low-income areas.”
Bay Shore resident Travis Dennis also spoke, and pointed out the necessity of voting to ensure progress in uprooting and disposing of systemic racism.
“We have to go through a lot of change in this community here. We have to get this racism stuff out of the community. It needs to stop, starting with the community down to the police,” Dennis added. “You guys want change? We are going to make it happen. You guys have to have the same stride you have right now for November.”