Occupy Wall Street offshoot Occu-Evolve held a small counter rally in response to a pro-police one on Staten Island Saturday.
Staten Island, of course, is the borough where Eric Garner died on video at the hands of police in July, and where many NYC police officers and their families live.
Both actions represented yet another battle in the rift between New Yorkers supporting the police without question and those challenging its recent actions. In December, both groups clashed at a #ThankYouNYPD rally at City Hall.
Though the Support Your Local Police Rally ended earlier than planned, with most participants having cleared from outside the 120th Precinct by the time the counter-protesters arrived, that didn’t stop Occu-Evolve from briefly speaking with media and denouncing the group.
“We feel that it’s not only highly disrespectful and inappropriate, but it’s a slap in the face of people that are for justice,” said Sumumba Sobukwe (pictured left of center in first picture below), who organized the response. Sobukwe added that Occu-Evolve was not necessarily against all police, but moreso certain officers.
Speaking directly about the pro-cop crowd, Sobukuwe added that “they don’t live in our communities, they don’t deal with the things that we deal with.”
The counter protesters chanted down the remaining few pro-police attendees before heading back to Manhattan due to cold weather. But they continued talking about fighting the pro-police narrative.
“These pro-cop rallies are pretty much an event to ridicule people standing up for their rights,” said Dariel (no last name given), a member of Shut It Down NYC, a “grassroots organization dedicated to fighting
#NYPD corruption, brutality, misconduct & mismanagement,” per their Twitter page.
“It’s a shame that cops have the nerve to [hold pro-police rallies], especially [in] Staten Island—a borough where someone was killed at the hands of law enforcement. Them doing that is them mocking the protesters.”
“Police are using violence to oppress black and Latino people of color on a regular basis. So when people come out in support of police violence, essentially, they’re supporting the cop that murdered Eric Garner,” added Will (no last name given.)
The Hunter College student also stressed the importance of more people coming out against these demonstrations.
“One of the most important things is just to show solidarity, to show that there are people out here that are trying to change the way that we’re living,” he said. “But it’s also—for me as an organizer—its important to come out in order to network and meet other people who are trying to make change.”
As some might expect,Occu-Evolve wasn’t the only group that had a problem with the demonstration. People blasted the event on its Facebook page as well.
One Sarah Renee Ortiz posted a Ku-Klux Klan song to the page, captioned, “While we the black lives matter folks sing “I can’t breathe,” this is the song ya pro-cop should sing.”
“Just like at your other events, us counter protesters will outnumber you and shout over your racist, ignorant chants,” added Karl Goldman.
Joel Franco went straight to the point with his post: “#ICantBreathe.”
More pictures from the event below: