Eisenhower Park hosts pro-cop rally
The “silent majority” was loud and raucous at times on a hot late July Saturday afternoon in Eisenhower Park.
That’s what Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin (R–Shirley), echoing President Richard Nixon’s famous phrase, called the several thousand who had gathered at a Back The Blue Demonstration at Football Field No. 4.
A parade of speakers gave the crowd plenty of red meat to cheer, lambasting politicians who they felt backed the rioters and protesters over law enforcement, and worse, wanted to defund and reduce the presence of the police where they were needed the most.
The death of George Floyd in May not only sparked protests across the country, but renewed old debates over law enforcement’s relationship to minority communities.
Once the protests started, there arose a divide between those who felt the police went too far is suppressing First Amendment rights of speech and assembly, and those who defended the men and women who were trying to maintain order in the face of looting and rioting.
From Family To Crowd
Austin Glickman, a NYPD officer who patrols the Harlem area and lives in Nassau County, was the main organizer of the rally. He heads an organization called Law Enforcement Officers Weekend, a nonprofit that sponsors recreational outings for law enforcement families.
Glickman told Anton Media Group that he was first approached by the Village of Lynbrook PBA to set up a rally, but it was soon evident that a larger venue was needed.
“As it turned out, even Eisenhower Park wasn’t big enough,” he said, noting that Nassau Police had to shut down the event parking as the starting time loomed because “it was becoming a public safety concern.”
He added, “We estimate that there were an additional 2 to 3,000 people that weren’t able to attend. It would have probably been 7 to 8,000 people instead of 3 to 4,000.”
Prior to the event, the group’s Facebook page urged attendees to avoid confronting what were expected to be counter protesters, noting, “Although you may not agree with the counter-protest, it is their right to peacefully protest against ours.”
Asked if there were problems between the two groups, Glickman stated, “No, the county police did a phenomenal job separating the two crowds. Everyone was civil.”
A point of controversy in the days before the rally was the expected presence of outspoken rocker Ted Nugent to sing the National Anthem.
However, New York’s 14-day quarantine requirement (Nugent lives in Texas) reportedly scotched those plans, which had drawn criticism.
Glickman said that numerous organizations helped his group organize the rally, and one from out of the state had made arrangements to fly the singer to New York.
Asked for a name, Glickman demurred, stating, “Based on what our lawyer said, we’re going to avoid any of that. We’re a family centered organization, never meant to be [caught in such controversy] in the first place. Unfortunately, that’s just the way the cookie crumbled.”
Glickman, a six-year veteran of the force, was asked for his views on the protests.
“No matter what side you’re on, most protesters are peaceful,” he replied. “They’re not looking to create any kind of havoc. Unfortunately, there are people out there looking to create problems. Eighty-five percent of the public supports law enforcement. A lot of people out there protesting are good people. They’re angry and upset, and a lot of politicians are using law enforcement as a scapegoat.”
Eighty-five percent of the public supports law enforcement. A lot of people out there protesting are good people. They’re angry and upset, and a lot of politicians are using law enforcement as a scapegoat.
Regarding Saturday’s rally, Glickman emphasized that “it wasn’t against Black Lives Matter and it wasn’t in support of Blue Lives Matter—we don’t even like to use that term. This was an event to rally the silent majority, and to get them out there to support law enforcement.”
The officer said that his group has received much positive feedback and request to do another event. It is in the early stages of planning another one.
Law And Disorder
“It is a shame that we have to have a rally to support the police,” stated co-emcee Paul Butler, a law enforcement veteran from South Carolina who had been the youngest chief of police in that state’s history. In his state, he added, “you couldn’t hold an anti-police rally in a phone booth.”
Reverend Doctor Aretha Wilson of the Kingdom Ambassadors Global Ministries in Lynbrook gave the opening prayer. In recounting the parable of the Good Samaritan, she likened that figure to today’s first responders.
“I so appreciate the people in law enforcement because you put your lives on the line,” she said. “You will not be forgotten. For the God that I serve will measure back to you sacrifice and love.”
In the police, she concluded, “We see love in action and service to humanity.”
There was a good sprinkling of NYPD active and retired officers in the crowd and among the speakers.
Ed Mullins, president of the 11,000-strong Sergeants Benevolent Association, spoke for many when he criticized “incompetent Mayor Bill de Blasio “for dismantling the department.
“To think he wanted to be president, when he can’t even run the city,” Mullins charged. “He’ll be leaving in 18 months, and I hope he takes this garbage with him.”
Retired NYPD Lt. Darrin Porcher, a criminal justice expert, stated, “I was a lieutenant in the NYPD for 20 years. I never once left the locker room with the intent of killing an innocent civilian.”
He observed, regarding the anti-police protests,“The demonstrators have driven a narrative that police officers are going out there to kill civilians.”
The infamous CHOP or police-free zone in Seattle, he charged, “is coming here, blessed by elected officials. We cannot let that happen.”
Porcher asserted that the upcoming presidential election can be seen as a referendum on law enforcement, and though he did not mention names, claimed that one candidate stood for “devaluing the police.” He left no doubt that he was talking about presumptive Democratic nominee Joseph Biden.
“I wish everyone safety,” he concluded. “This is our nation, and not the criminals’.”
Co-emcee Anthony D’Esposito, a Town of Hempstead councilman and retired NYPD detective, introduced fellow councilman Chris Carini, who served with the NYPD, MTA and Port Authority police.
“It takes a special individual to leave their families and risk their lives for complete strangers,” Carini said, adding that law enforcement were part of the fabric of the community and served such roles as Little League coaches and volunteer firefighters.
Carini noted that 135 law police officers have died in the line of duty so far this year.
He bashed the “defund the police” movement, stating that it will reduce the number of officers on the street, reduce 911 response time and lead to an increase in crime.
“I proudly stand with law enforcement, and appreciate the job that you do, day-in and day-out,” Carini concluded.
Town of Huntington Councilman Ed Smyth said, “The police are not the problem. There are a lot of plastic politician out there who have ceased to lead—they are the problem. Colleges are indoctrinating, not teaching students, and Facebook and social media are nuclear reactors of disinformation.”
“Our state government has failed our law enforcement community, and that is something I’m ashamed of,” said New York State Assemblyman Joe DeStefano (R-Medford), a retired deputy with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department. “I will never turn my back on law enforcement because I’m part of it and I’ll always be a part of it. And thank God that you do what you do.”
He summed up, “You need to go to the ballot box in November and send a message to anyone who’s against what it is we believe in.”
Former Navy SEAL Jonathan Gilliam is a frequent guest of Sean Hannity’s Fox News show.
He quoted what Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert told him, that the country was already in a civil war, “we just haven’t gotten to the guns yet. Congressmen Zeldin and King go to work every day in a civil war.”
Gilliam declared that “The Constitution is not a piece of paper. It’s a word that allows you to be here. It’s a word that I swore an oath to, and to defend against all enemies, foreign—say it with me, foreign—and domestic.”
The former FBI agent also urged all active officers to wake up and resist doing “the work of [NYC Mayor Bill] de Blasio and [Governor Andrew] Cuomo.”
Gilliam concluded, “If you don’t stand up for the people, the people will stop standing with you. And you will become the henchmen for the communists in power.”
The Republican congressmen representing the 1st and 2nd districts also showed up.
Lee Zeldin assured the crowd that the “silent majority,” will be heard from on Election Day, and it “loves our flags, our freedoms, our liberty. The silent majority that wants law and order, peace and prosperity and safety and security.”
He also named names, and had a message for the “politicians who were pandering for votes and would turn their backs on law enforcement—we don’t want you in power.”
Peter King (R–Seaford) said his father Peter was a longtime NYPD officer and declared that he was “proud to stand with the men and women in blue. We need the police. They are the thin blue line that protects civilization and all of us.”
King, who was first elected in 1992 and is retiring at the end of this year, criticized “the politicians who seek to defund the police and stand with the protesters who loot and riot and throw Molotov cocktails at the police.”
“I promise you as long as I’m in congress, as long as I’m alive, I will stand with the men and women in blue,” he affirmed.
“Blue” Unions Weigh In
Nassau County Correction Officers Benevolent Association President Brian Sullivan made note of the counter-protesters and stated, “We’re not going to be silenced by people who do not support law enforcement. We will not be silenced by people who want to tear this country down.”
He asserted that a “war” has been declared against law-abiding citizens and public safety, and “the righteous protests were hijacked by hate groups and people who hate law enforcement and hate our country.”
“The streets of our cities,” he went on, “have been handed over to the criminals by our pandering, cowardly politicians.”
We’re not going to be silenced by people who do not support law enforcement. We will not be silenced by people who want to tear this country down.—Brian Sullivan
Sullivan has been outspoken in his opposition to the bail reforms enacted last year by the state legislature, and slightly modified this year. He declared that he was going to celebrate his 32nd year in law enforcement the following day.
“I’m still active and I’m not going anywhere,” he said to cheers.
He hoped the rally would wake people up, and the “silent majority” would stand up and be heard.
“There are graves of Americans all over the world who died fighting tyrants, socialists and communists. Now we’re electing them to Congress. What the hell is wrong with us?” he concluded. “You can make the change. Get off your lazy asses and vote the bastards out in November.”
Nassau County PBA President James McDermott said he spent four years in the NYPD and the rest with the NCPD, calling them, “the two best police departments in the county. It was an honor to help the people of north Brooklyn, and it was an honor to work in the Fifth Precinct and help the people of Lakeview. We are here for you.”
He added, “My police officers and all police officers needed a shot in the arm right about now, and this [really] is a shot in the arm for the Nassau County Police Department. Everybody needs to get a pat on the back.”
“Our leadership has abandoned us,” McDermott went on, wondering why Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder weren’t at the rally.
Reached by Anton Media Group, Curran declined to comment and Ryder said he had been at the rally, but chose not to speak. Instead, he was helping to keep the peace where the two demonstrations interfaced.
“We serve the public, and we do it honorably,” McDermott concluded. “That’s what’s getting lost in the sauce.”
If you don’t show up on Election Day, it’s all for naught. And if you’re that politician that passes bail reforms, and lets criminal free to rape, murder and rob, I have no use for you. –Louis Civello
Suffolk County PBA 2nd Vice President Louis Civello “named names” when he stepped up to the mic. He accused Democratic state senators of voting for bail reform that eliminated cash bail for a range of offenses and also for repealing 50-a, a state law that allowed law enforcement to shield police misconduct records from the public.
“They are cutting down the laws, they are cutting down the police,” Civello charged. “Defund the police? You tell me, when MS-13 chops someone up with a machete, you’re going to send a social worker? You tell me.”
He also pointed to the upcoming election, arguing that anti-police politicians should be held responsible.
“If you don’t show up on Election Day, it’s all for naught. And if you’re that politician that passes bail reforms, and lets criminal free to rape, murder and rob, I have no use for you,” he said.
Two women whose loved ones fell in the line of duty added their voices to the rally.
Lisa Tuozzolo’s husband Paul was killed in the Bronx by a suspect in a domestic dispute on Nov. 4, 2016.
His actions, Tuozzolo related, saved the lives of his fellow officers.
“In my eyes, he was a hero long before that day,” she said. “But after November 4, not only did he become a hero for all of us, but I realized how many heroes there are in this world who put on that uniform every single day.”
Her “blue” family, she added, had embraced her “blood” family, including sons Austin, 8, and Joey, 7.
“We were dealt a real bad hand of cards, but the lesson that I’m teaching my children is that we don’t fold, we don’t cave in, we don’t back down, and we don’t lose,” she affirmed. “We will keep fighting the same way my husband had the backs of his seven colleagues that day, and the way every law enforcement officer has my back, and the backs of my children.”
We were dealt a real bad hand of cards, but the lesson that I’m teaching my children is that we don’t fold, we don’t cave in, we don’t back down, and we don’t lose. –Lisa Tuozzolo
Tuozzolo, who lives in Huntington, urged the many law enforcement officers in crowd, “Keep fighting. Keep remembering how much you are appreciated. How much you are needed and how much we care about you.”
Observed Butler, “[Tuozzolo] did not die in vain—we carry that torch on.”
He promised that the thin blue line “might bend, will get a tear, but it will never break.”
Genesis Villella’s mother, Miosotis Familia, was killed “execution style” in the Bronx on July 5, 2017 as she sat in a mobile command unit.
I want all Americans to remember that all these cops out here protecting us are human beings with families and friends and loved ones who need them to come home. –Genesis Villella
“My mother was executed for being a police officer,” Villella said, breaking down. “A coward who hated cops walked up to the window with a gun and shot her in the head. She was a 12-year veteran who spent all of her career working in the Bronx. She was a true patriot who loved her country, loved being a cop. She once told me that it was her true calling. She was an amazing human being, and she was taken from me and all those who loved her.”
Like other speakers, Villella mentioned how much police officers sacrificed—missing holidays, family celebrations and more—to “serve and protect.”
“I want all Americans to remember that all these cops out here protecting us are human beings with families and friends and loved ones who need them to come home,” she stated, before reading a list of NYPD police officers killed in the line of duty in recent years, naming her mother first and sobbing as she reminded the crowd, “Never forget the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for us.”
Glickman, the rally organizer, jumped up on the truck to thank his team and the sponsors for putting the rally together. He also praised the NCPD for helping keep the protesters apart.
In Facebook posting after the rally, Glickman stated, “This is what a demonstration should look like afterwards—no damages, no destruction, no graffiti, no empty cups—nothing. Just as we found it, we’re leaving it the same way.