Hundreds rallied and marched in Brooklyn on Sunday in support of police officers to counter weeks of Black Lives Matter demonstrations citywide — but it wasn’t without a minor fracas.
The rally, dubbed “We Back the Blue,” was organized by local Marine Park and Gerritsen Beach leaders, many of whom have close friendships and relationships with law enforcement. Many of the attendees there say they recognized the ongoing gun violence plaguing the city with shootings up 170% during July.
But a handful of counter-protesters chanting “Black Lives Matter” met the demonstration. One of the Back the Blue marchers lashed out. In a video caught by photographer Jon Farina, the marcher is shown grabbing a 14-year-old girl, who dared to take an opposing view, by the neck and shoving her.
Police immediately intervened, with some officers privately saying they saw the older woman attack the teen. No charges were filed.
“All we were saying was ‘Black lives matter’ and it’s just words, I’m not going to hit you,” said Rose McGuire, who while standing with her friend Isabelle Guheliardo, both 14, was attacked by the unidentified woman. “The fact that those three words made them so enraged and for her to go for my neck, it’s just so sad, because all we said was Black lives matter.”
Yet that was a minor skirmish compared to previous unrest during Back the Blue rallies previously held in Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge last month.
Sunday’s protest was led by a number of prominent Republican leaders including former State Senator Marty Golden, who is seeking to retake his seat from Andrew Guanardes. Also in attendance was retired Chief of Transit Joseph Fox and the parents of slain police officers Russell Timoshenko and Wenjian Liu.
Fox was particularly incensed by the anti-police rhetoric, defending his former colleagues from the onslaught of brutality claims and calls for defunding. He was even angrier that political leaders in Portland allowed demonstrators to take over a police stationhouse he said, remembering that the precinct building was “only brick and mortar.”
“A police stationhouse represents what is good and represents order, but they called it brick and mortar,” Fox told the crowd on the Gerritsen Beach ballfield on Dr. John’s Park behind Public School 177.
Fox said he was angered by the negative portrayal of police officers in “the greatest department in the world,”
“So here we are with people dying, businesses destroyed, and I’m usually the message of hope, but it’s difficult now,” Fox sighed, as he trashed de Blasio and other leaders for not supporting police officers and allowing the city to be looted and vandalized.”
Tatiana Timoshenko joined her husband Leonid in support of the pro-cop rally. Their son Russel was slain during a routine car stop on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn July 14, 2007, at age 23. They attended to support the NYPD.
“It’s very important for us to support our NYPD – there are so many crimes right now,” Tatiana Timoshenko said. “You must remember, all lives matter, a crime is a crime, and these people have to stay in prison – you can’t blame COVID-19 for letting criminals out, come on. We must support our police now more than ever.”
Numerous other speakers blasted the mayor for not supporting the police, many saying they will settle the problem at the voting booth.
Golden was especially critical of the mayor and the administration for allegedly not supporting police and allowing crime to run rampant.
“This is not a black-and-white issue, yesterday a thousand people marched in the streets against crime, because of the losses if their children, and that’s because we are one country, under God,” Golden said.
The organizers of the event vowed to continue to show support for police and promised to continue to rally for police officers.