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‘Something has to change’: Queens residents take to streets over Floyd death

Photo by Jeffery Harrell

BY ANGELICA ACEVEDO, JEFFREY HARRELL, GRANT LANCASTER AND ROBERT POZARYCKI

Nearly a thousand protesters took to the streets of Jackson Heights and Woodside Saturday afternoon calling for an end to injustice following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers this week.

Queens joined the nation in a wave of protests after video footage surfaced, showing Police Officer Derek Chauvin allegedly kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes, killing him. 

“I’m tired. I’m tired of seeing it, I’m tired of living it, I’m tired of being in fear,” Jamaica resident Malaika Brutus told QNS. “Something has to change.” 

Photo by Angélica Acevedo

The protesters gathered in Diversity Plaza on Roosevelt Avenue and Broadway, before making their way up Broadway, stopping traffic for several blocks. Throughout the march, the atmosphere was rather peaceful and calm in comparison to the fracas that unfolded Friday night outside Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

Activists handed out water, masks, and snacks as the marchers wound their way toward the 115th Precinct. 

As the Queens group passed along a residential block, neighbors rang out cowbells in support of the effort.

Several Q32 bus drivers showed their support with loud honks, along with many others stuck in traffic due to the protest. The Transit Workers Union Local 100 have made public statements in support of the Black Lives Matters protesters, with one driver refusing to allow the NYPD to transport arrested activists at Friday’s protest Brooklyn. 

Photo by Jeffrey Harrell

Residents and business owners in Jackson Heights rang bells and beat on buckets out of their windows, reminiscent of the nightly ritual celebrating health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

CJ, a 22-year-old woman from Queens joined the protest with some friends and quickly passed out six cases of bottled water to the marchers, she said.

She hopes that city officials and the police will learn from the protests that they need to listen to the people when they are discontent, she said.

“The system needs to listen to the people who constructed it,” CJ said.

Chris Ogunfowora, who traveled from Elmont in Long Island, felt it necessary to protest even during the pandemic.

“If you’re not doing anything at this point, you’re standing up for the police who keep killing us,” he said behind a black protective mask. “There’s nothing left to argue about, we need justice.” 

The march came to a halt in front of the 115th Precinct in Jackson Heights as protesters continued to shout in Spanish, asesinos police, which is translated to “murderous police” in English.

A group of three black men sat at the barricade around 6 p.m., chatting with a red-headed NYPD officer with a name tag that read Lopez, while protestors yelled at cops in riot helmets about 30 feet away.

“That guy over there (Derek Chauvin) f—-ed it up for everyone,” Lopez said.

 

Photo by Grant Lancaster

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