NAACP leaders and the town supervisor issued a joint statement Thursday advocating for unity in the wake of the death of George Floyd, whose death May 25 while restrained by a police officer in Minneapolis has roiled the country.
Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, former Councilwoman Tracey A. Edwards who is also Long Island regional director, NAACP, and the Rev. Larry D. Jennings Sr., president of Huntington NAACP said,
“We are issuing this joint statement to call for unity in the face of adversity and a national tragedy, as the Town of Huntington and the nation recovers from an unprecedented public health and economic crisis that has brought our community and communities across our country, to their knees, and disproportionately so in our most vulnerable neighborhoods.
“The killing of George Floyd is a terrible tragedy and grave injustice and we join the rest of the country in denouncing the killing of this innocent man and calling for those responsible to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Sadly, this is not an isolated incident; injustices like the one perpetrated against George Floyd have occurred for decades across our nation. This most recent national outrage should be enough for everyone. We respect and encourage peaceful protest, in the effective tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“We commend our Town’s residents who have set an example for the rest of the country with their peaceful, respectful protests over the past several days.
“On Monday, June 1st, marching from the Big H shopping center going north, a diverse group of about one hundred residents protested the unjust tragedy in Minneapolis, peacefully making their way through Huntington Village. Onlookers and small business owners cheered them on. Like the young people that led the march, many of our small businesses continue to demonstrate the care for our community by doing amazing things to support the frontline healthcare workers, first responders, and families in need during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
“The group marched to Huntington Town Hall and kneeled on Veterans Plaza, around the flagpole at half-staff, in a moment of silence for George Floyd, respecting the monuments to our veterans. We respect and applaud their moving tributes to the memory of George Floyd.” Huntington is a wonderful place to live and do business. We are an example of what communities across the country can and should live up, but we also recognize that there is still much work to do to end all racial injustices.
“Sadly, like in some communities, there are bad actors hijacking protests to divide us, law enforcement and destroy communities and businesses. The hateful comments from a local small business owner about the peaceful protesters who marched through Huntington Village were despicable. There is no place in the Town of Huntington for racism and hate. We will not tolerate words and acts of division, just as we will not condone violence against our residents, our businesses, and our law enforcement. His words do not reflect the heart and soul of our Town of Huntington.
“On Tuesday, we participated in another march against this injustice escorted by our Suffolk County police. Led again by our young people and joined by the Suffolk County Police Commissioner, our Town, County and State colleagues in government, interfaith members of the clergy, school district officials, small business owners, and a host of community leaders and residents – all there to vehemently denounce hateful rhetoric, the killing of George Floyd, and to show what we can accomplish by working together on behalf of all communities.
“Let us not breathe oxygen into the words of those who fuel division and spread hate. We must respect one another, we must exercise our freedoms, respect the freedoms of others, and come together, in peace, to heal from this national tragedy.”
The protests in Huntington have continued, with another march expected later Thursday.
Racist remarks made on a videotape by a restaurant owner and aimed at the Black Lives Matter march on Monday, set off protests Tuesday in front his business. Another protest happened Wednesday morning in front of another restaurant owned by a man who appeared in the video but did not speak. That was followed by another march later Wednesday downtown.