Coney Island was the latest site for a peaceful protest in response to the death of George Floyd.
On Friday, June 12, hundreds of people gathered outside Asser Levy Park, 302 Sea Breeze Ave., to march justice and peace.
In his weekly State of Coney Island video, Dick Zigun, founder of Coney Island U.S.A., talked to several participants, including business owners and elected officials, about the importance of the demonstration.
“We try to represent the whole community and we know that there has been a lot of [systemic] injustice,” said Alexandra Silversmith, executive director of the Alliance for Coney Island. “That’s why we are here. We want to make sure that we are in solidarity, especially as a business community. To understand what black residents are going through. We are here in solidarity.”
“We are here with a large group from the community,” said Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus, who represents Coney Island, Bay Ridge, and Dyker Heights. “This is part of the nationwide demonstrations which have been going on to demand justice for George Floyd in Minneapolis. Something is happening around the country. People are starting to see with their own eyes the double standard we have in our law enforcement system as well as the treatment black Americans have been enduring for some 400 years. It’s an important day in Coney island today to speak up and use our voice and say enough is enough.”
“We are coming together just to show support,” said one participant. “”Rough times in our community. This is rooted in love, not hatred.”
Local resident Moses Sesay organized the march and addressed the crowd throughout the day.
“We have criminal police officers walking around without any power checking them and they are killing unarmed civilians,” he said. “This is all of our issue.
“It should not take death for all of us to unite. We have all types of communities but the sad part is we are all separated and none of us know each other. That is sad. We need to change that narrative. We need to come mobilize as people and show power that they cannot divide or conquer us. It’s going to take all of us as people to unite and make sure we get legislation signed, get justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the many victims of police brutality.”
On West 31st Street, the protesters went to their knees and chanted, “Power to the people. Power! Power!”
Frontus addressed the crowd on the iconic boardwalk.
“We’ve been waiting to be treated as human beings with every right guaranteed under the law for 400 years,” she said. “We’ve been waiting for the violence to stop against black bodies. For the brutality to stop against our people for 400 years. Black people have been saying for years that we’ve been treated like second-class citizens. Without these videos, some of these people just wouldn’t believe us. Look at a moment like this. I’m so sorry it took his death for people around the world to stand in unison and say enough is enough.
“If we don’t do what we are doing now, there’s going to be another George Floyd. It has to end on our watch.”
“Some powerful and emotional moments captured during today’s Coney Island March for Justice and Peace,” said Councilmember Mark Treyger. “As a teacher, I always believed our young people will lead the way. Moses, a Liberation HS graduate from Coney Island, did a great job organizing today’s event in partnership with Principal April Leong and others. A beautiful mosaic of support from across Southern Brooklyn turned out in solidarity for black lives, justice, and peace. I appreciate Sgt. Thomas from the 60th Pct. for his positive message to the community today as well. The image of our young people standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity is everything. More to do, but today was a powerful day.”
Sesay said the march had to be just the beginning.
“This isn’t over! We can’t let up,” he wrote on Facebook. “We have to make sure we build with our community first while allowing trust to develop between neighboring communities! Allies are a must when you are fighting a psychological war! The more allies we create the greater our chances will be of riding off the negative stereotypes they have bastardized our communities with! It’s easy to control a community divided. Let’s keep standing together for injustice. Let’s make sure we hold our local politicians, citywide, state and federal accountable.”