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Opinion: Sunnyside Rejects Hate, Cancel Saturday’s Pro-Police March

Queer Liberation March in Manhattan on June 28, 2020 (Photo: Emilia Decaudin)

Aug. 20, 2020 By Emilia Decaudin and Jesse Laymon –Opinion

We were disappointed and angered to read in the Queens Post this week of the plan by the 108th Police Community Council for a march through Sunnyside this coming Saturday.

As the newly elected Democratic District Leaders for Sunnyside and other parts of Long Island City, it is our responsibility to be aware of the sentiments of the voters in our neighborhood, and we can definitively say that our neighbors reject the hurtful symbolism of this planned march.

All political demonstrations such as marches are inherently symbolic actions—their literal slogans must be understood in the context of their time and place. And context can radically transform how we interpret a symbol.

A white dress can be innocuous attire; white dresses worn by dozens of Congresswomen are an unmistakable homage to the fight for suffrage. A hooded white robe can be a bathroom accessory; hooded white robes worn on horseback are an unmistakable threat of racist violence.

And in the context of the summer of 2020, a march by dozens of white residents through a city neighborhood “in support of our officers” must be interpreted as a thinly veiled embrace of the police killings of Black people across America.

No one who’s lived through the past four months should need an explainer on why police have been the focus of so much attention this summer.

Police in Minneapolis killed George Floyd. Police in Louisville killed Breonna Taylor. Police in Aurora killed Elijah McClain. After these and so many other horrific deaths at the hands of police across the nation, tens of thousands of citizens turned out to demonstrate against police violence. And in many cities, especially our own, police departments responded to these demonstrations with yet more violence—tear gas, body armor, billy clubs, and SUVs driven as weapons.

To organize a march now, given the context, in proud support of local police cannot be innocuous. This is not any ordinary year, and this march is not in observation of some annual police holiday or local tradition. Its symbolism is unmistakably clear: “we support police officers, even when they murder and maim.”

Perhaps the organizers of the march did not intend to be so blatantly hurtful and racist. Perhaps they’re out of touch with the events of 2020 or have been consuming only distorted right-wing media. Or perhaps they’ve internalized the twisted worldview of the bigot in the White House—whom the police union just endorsed this week—who promotes the false notion that wanton police violence is somehow helpful and justified.

If the 108th Police Community Council doesn’t intend to declare its support for the murder of Black people, there is still time for them to avoid doing so. Cancel Saturday’s march. And focus future events on how the local precinct can help the community, not how the community can condone the worst behaviors of police.

Emilia Decaudin and Jesse Laymon are the Democratic District Leaders for Assembly District 37, Part A, representing Dutch Kills, Ravenswood, parts of Long Island City, and Sunnyside.

Twitter: @EmiliaDecaudin and @JesseLaymon 

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Queens Post.

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11 Comments

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Anonymous 2

“[I]n the context of the summer of 2020, a march by dozens of white residents through a city neighborhood ‘in support of our officers’ must be interpreted as a thinly veiled embrace of the police killings of Black people across America.”

This interpretation of symbolism is utterly preposterous.

On the basis of what evidence are you mind readers? Who decides what symbolizes what? Who allowed you to hijack the meanings of things by your say-so?

If on YOUR interpretation the CLEARLY stated messages of these protesters contradict what you claim are their HIDDEN messages — entirely on your say-so — then how is political dialogue even possible?

Is this what is known as healing our public discourse??

Reply
Anonymous 2

“[I]n the context of the summer of 2020, a march by dozens of white residents through a city neighborhood ‘in support of our officers’ must be interpreted as a thinly veiled embrace of the police killings of Black people across America.”

Do you really mean “must be interpreted”?? This is absolutely preposterous.

On the basis of what evidence are you mind readers? Who decides what symbolizes what? Who allowed you to hijack the meanings of things by your say-so?

If on your interpretation the clearly stated messages of these protesters contradict what YOU claim are their hidden messages, then how is political dialogue even possible?

Is this what is known as “healing our public discourse”?

Reply
Will

“Police in Minneapolis killed George Floyd. Police in Louisville killed Breonna Taylor. Police in Aurora killed Elijah McClain. After these and so many other horrific deaths…”

Please look up the actual statistics of police violence against blacks and the contexts, instead of relying only on the handful of media-covered specific cases. If you keep an open mind, you may be surprised.

We are being played. Find out the motives of those playing us.

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Fed up

Does anyone know the name of the last Native American, White, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, or any other demographic that was killed by the police? Don’t their lives matter? The media only covers white on black crime.

Reply
Breonna Taylor was an EMT with no criminal record

Police unloaded 20 rounds on her in a no-knock warrant. No evidence was produced.

That’s the context. Need more?

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Anonymous 2

Are there horrific and inexcusable police actions occurring in the US? Of course. Should we protest them when they occur? Sure. But how long and more importantly, to what ends? Can you point, anywhere, to a society of millions of people who maintained safety with solely social work, and no policing?

This is a country of 330 million people, with over 680,000 police officers. We can assume that hundreds of thousands of police officers are on the streets every day, potentially facing life-of-death situations. But what portion of all interactions are inexcusable, and on a statistical basis, what is reasonable to expect are going to happen no matter what control regime, short of North Korea’s, is imposed? 100% prevention is IMPOSSIBLE. So perhaps you missed “the actual statistics” part of the question…

In addition, since 9/11, I understand many have been trained — unreasonably, in my opinion — to treat perceived “threats” as a war-like confrontation, prepared to use SWAT tactics in everyday encounters. When are we going to protest about that, or even get full reporting? About police being stuck between a rock (potential deadly confrontations, often no way to know ahead of time) and a hard place (their training to, say, react first and ask questions later)? Are the police the problem, or is their context? Who is putting them there, and why?

Is the solution simply, in knee-jerk fashion, to remove the police around the entire country when several notorious cases are repeatedly described? Here in NYC, now, we are certainly finding out the tragic consequences of that…

Reply
Will

Congrats for advertising your laziness. Did the article itself cause you a problem? It was about 3 times longer.

Magda Halper

The right to see things differently. To you it’s racism, to me it is not.
We will never agree, never eat at the same table, but it you have the right to protest against the police, I have the right to defend the police and if you consider me racist, that’s your right. I still have the right to see things my way. This is America, not a Communist country. If you don’t like someone’s views, you still have no control over it😊

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