In what is believed to be a first in Queens — and perhaps the city — hundreds of people marched through the streets of Middle Village Monday night to support the beleaguered NYPD.
“We’ve never seen this before,” said Deputy Inspector Victoria Perry, commander of the 104th Precinct, as she watched the pro-cop demonstration from the edge of Juniper Valley Park. “It’s a first for me.”
The boisterous crowd — estimated at 400 to 500 people — chanted slogans of support for the cops as it walked a mile-and-a-half route through the neighborhood.
“How do you spell hero?” called out an organizer on a bullhorn.
“N-Y-P-D!” the marchers responded.
The pro-police rally was hastily organized just a week after supporters of the Black Life Matters movement rallied at the same park to call for defunding the Police Department and swift action against cops accused of using excessive force on the job.
Marchers in the pro-cop demonstration cheered as drivers, stuck in a mini-traffic jam caused by the demonstration, honked their horns in support.
“This march shows the spirit of a middle-class neighborhood that pays the taxes that make everything possible,” said Tony Nunziato, head of the Juniper Park Civic Association, one of the organizers. “It was a good start.”
Marchers carried signs expressing appreciation for the police as well as a warning that, without law enforcement, crime would begin to run rampant in the city again.
At the end of the 60-minute walk, marchers gathered on 80th Street and chanted “Thank you!” to the contingent of two dozen or so cops who’d provided security for the demonstration. Several marchers walked up and hugged Perry, flaunting social-distancing guidelines.
The march itself was promoted only on area Facebook pages and other social media for fear that announcing a pro-cop rally more widely would attract counterdemonstrators.
As it was, the only sign of counterprotesters was a lone, young woman on a bicycle who tried to block the police car at the head of the procession as it headed west on Eliot Avenue.
The woman, who declined to identify herself, shouted “I can’t breathe” and other slogans until an officer on foot signaled for her move along.
Sharp words were exchanged between the young woman and some marchers but the bicyclist soon rode off.
Another pro-cop rally is scheduled for Sunday night, also in Juniper Valley Park.