In what is becoming almost a daily occurrence somewhere throughout the East End, hundreds of people crowded into Sag Harbor Friday afternoon for a protest in memory of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by police in Minneapolis on May 25.
The crowd, which met up in the new John Steinbeck Memorial Park at the foot of the Sag Harbor Bridge, marched down Main Street, stopping in the middle of town to lie, face-down in the street for nearly nine minutes, the amount of time officer Derek Chauvin was caught on video with his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck as he cried for his mother.
“When he cried for his mother, she unleashed all mothers to fight injustice for him,” said Dr. Georgette Grier-Key, the Executive Director of the Eastville Community Historical Society, who was one of the speakers at the event.
“We demand restorative justice. What does that mean We want to dismantle all racist policies,” she said. “Do you know what people are sick and tired of being sick and tired of? We are tired of coexisting, we are tired of being second class citizens we are tire dof two americas. we are tired of excepting wrong from right. We are tired of making excuses for you.
“This generation has managed to do something that no other generation could do. That is get rid of You: You who is ok with lack of diversity. You who is ok with lack of inclusion. You who is ok with passing. You who is ok with looking the other way.”
Willie Jenkins of Bridgehampton, who helped to organize a similar protest on Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton on Tuesday, said that, when he was a kid, he was afraid to go to Sag Harbor, because he didn’t many any kids who looked like him there, and one of his friends had been brutalized by the police there. But now, he said, he not only sees a more diverse crowd of people in Sag Harbor, they.
“But the kids from Sag Harbor never treated us any different, they always treated us with respect,” he said. “It was the young people that kept us together.”
Edward Dudley said he believes “only another police officer could have saved George Floyd’s life.
“They fear their career would be jeopardized” if they stood up for what was right, he said. “A police officer needs to take action…. We need to train officers to step up and prevent deaths.”
The crowd then marched twice through Sag Harbor, stopping in the middle of town the second time and lying in the street and chanting “I Can’t Breathe,” the words uttered repeatedly by George Floyd as he begged for his life.
Protests are expected to continue throughout the weekend, with one planned on the Great Lawn in Westhampton Beach from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday June 6, and at the Hook Mill in East Hampton on Sunday, June 7 from 2 to 5 p.m.