SAYVILLE

1,500 attend Sayville's annual Back the Blue event

Sam Desmond
Posted 8/2/20

On Saturday, Aug. 1, a Back the Blue rally was held at the Sayville Long Island Rail Road station with a march to and from the parking lot through downtown Main Street.

For the past five years, …

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SAYVILLE

1,500 attend Sayville's annual Back the Blue event

Posted

On Saturday, Aug. 1, a Back the Blue rally was held at the Sayville Long Island Rail Road station with a march to and from the parking lot through downtown Main Street.

For the past five years, the event was previously sponsored and held at the Sayville Community Ambulance building, but this year, due to COVID-19, it was decided that proper social distancing could not be maintained as well as keeping the ambulance company operational with the additional calls they have been receiving.

Jamie Atkinson and Patty Manfredonia, both members of Community Ambulance, felt strongly that this year in particular, there should be a rally to bolster the spirits of law enforcement.

“We both are very active in our community and serve on several boards together including the Community Ambulance Company.  We have been involved in several community programs to support those throughout our community and have a life-long record of public community service.  For the past 5 years we have hosted a back the blue event in August to support our local Police Officers we work with on calls daily.  Unfortunately this year Community Ambulance made the decision to not host the event.  We felt it was important to continue with a means to say thank you and show our support for our local heroes in blue privately.”

Both organizers were adamant that this rally was to be non-political and in no way a response to the Black Lives Matter protest that was held in Sayville in June.

“In no way is the event considered a counter protest to the BLM or timed because of their marches. Their prior BLM protests were not even a thought or discussed in the planning process or creation.”

Over 1,500 people (as estimated by Suffolk County Police Department) gathered for the event bearing the Blue Lives Matter flag (a black and white U.S. flag with a blue stripe in the middle) and American flags, many in shirts that also voiced familial support of law enforcement.

In keeping with the non-political starting point of this rally, no elected officials spoke, albeit a number of bipartisan representatives were present.

The first speaker, Suffolk Police PBA Headquarters East Trustee, John Hnat, spoke of law enforcement’s difficulties in the current climate of mass protests and resulting procedural upheaval. 

A recently widowed wife of a law enforcement officer from Calverton, Leanne Simonsen, gave a heartfelt, pleading speech where she thanked the crowd for “having her husband’s back” and assured that “he also has yours.”

Phil Alvarez, the brother of Luis Alvarez, a police officer who passed away from 9/11 cancer spoke of his brother’s valiance and the need for support of law enforcement and the dangerous job they perform.

The marchers assembled and walked south towards Main Street, greeted by shop owners who came outside their businesses, most in support of the rally.

A counter-protest of a dozen members of the BlackWhiteBrown United group of Long Island met with the rally upon their return to the Long Island Rail Road parking lot.

Shouting back-and-forth ensued and police were quick to reprimand the counter-protestors to retreat back onto a sidewalk and read them the Riot Act, threatening them with arrest if they stepped off the curb.

Phil Young, a local Sayville business owner, who spoke at the Sayville Black Lives Matter protest, joined the counter-protest and posted a 30-minute video to his Facebook documenting the encounter of BWBU, the marchers, and the police.

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