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‘Menacing’ attacker threatens peaceful protest in Queens

Photo by Dominick Totino Photography

Peaceful protests calling for justice for George Floyd in Whitestone were met with racist and menacing attacks from anti-protesters earlier this week. 

For the past three days, protesters hung signs in the neighborhood in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, only to see them torn down again and again by anti-protesters. But the attacks didn’t stop there — at one point, a man with a sharp object drove up to the protesters on the Cross Island Parkway overpass on Clintonville Street and threatened to kill them for protesting in the neighborhood.

The saga began on Monday, June 2, when M.A. — who has requested his full name not be used — began hanging signs in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in Whitestone, where he lives.

“I just wanted to bring awareness to the cause I care about,” M.A. said. “I just felt like it needed to be said.”

Soon after he began hanging the signs, he noticed they were being torn down. He posted videos about the incident to social media and soon a handful of people showed up to support the cause. New signs were hung, and the protest grew. 

Later Monday afternoon, a man identified as Anthony Abicca by various people on Twitter, showed up to the location and began to rip down the signs.

“You’re racist,” one of the protesters can be heard saying on the video. 

“Yeah, and?” Abicca replied. 

In a video posted to Twitter, Abicca chronicled his trip towards the protest, in which he espoused a handful of racial slurs and said that “today’s episode is going to be on direct action,” and calls Whitestone a “nice little white town.”

After posting the video online, various Twitter users found that Abicca was a student attending Queens College. In response to the incident, Queens College released a statement.

“​Thank you to all expressing concern about social media postings of videos of racist remarks by an individual identified as a Queens College student,” the statement read. “The racism and bigotry expressed does not in any way represent Queens College; we condemn racism and bigotry of any kind. We reaffirm our enduring commitment to diversity and respect so that all members of our community may pursue their goals in a safe and supportive environment.”

Abicca could not be reached for comment.

Following the clash with Abicca, M.A. and his fellow protesters re-hung signs and posted about the incident to social media, which, in turn, encouraged more protesters to show up. 

On Monday night, Chris Melegos, a 20-year-old who lives in the area, came by to show his support. Melegos began hanging signs in the neighborhood around 6:30 p.m. 

“We put them all around, everything was ‘RIP George Floyd,’ and ‘Black Lives Matter,’ very peaceful stuff,” Melegos said. “They were taken down in five minutes.”

The relatively small protest began to die down around 8 p.m., but the next morning, M.A. returned to find that the signs had been taken down once again. But this time, they had been replaced with new signs and a lot more people. 

“Before you knew it the whole block was filled,” M.A. said. “It felt so good to see that.”

But with the increased numbers of protesters came a menacing backlash from one man who claims protesters had attacked his car on Tuesday. 

Around 3:15 p.m., on Tuesday, an unknown man drove his car directly in front of the protesters on the Cross Island Parkway and Clintonville Street. He quickly jumped out of the car, brandishing several sharp objects attached to his hand, according to the NYPD. 

The man, who drove a gray Mercury SUV, waved the weapon in the direction of the protesters before getting back into his car and driving away, police say. According to witnesses at the protest, the man drove off in the direction of the protesters and nearly ran them down. 

In one video posted to social media, the man can be heard saying, “This is the wrong neighborhood,” before driving off. 

 

“It was scary seeing that,” M.A. said. “That menacing look in his face.”

Despite the aggression against them, M.A. has encouraged his fellow protesters to remain peaceful. 

“The main thing I’ve been saying to people who show up to this block is that we have to stay peaceful,” he said. “Being violent discredits the whole movement.”

M.A. and his fellow protesters returned to the Cross Island Parkway overpass on Wednesday, June 3, to find that despite the backlash, the Whitestone community also was filled with supporters. 

Flowers, and boxes of water, juice and pizza lined the sidewalk to aid the protesters as the call for justice and an end to police violence against Black people continued.

View photos from the Whitestone protests below.

This story first appeared on qns.com.

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