Aug. 21, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
A counter-rally is set to take place before a pro-police march in Sunnyside Saturday morning.
The opposing rally will meet at John Vincent Daniels Jr. Square in Woodside at 10 a.m. and walk towards 39th Street and Greenpoint Avenue.
The group expects to arrive just before a scheduled pro-police march kicks off from the spot at 11 a.m.
The pro-police rally is looking to support the officers of the NYPD 108th precinct, which covers Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City.
The counter-protesters said they will form a single-file line in front of the pro-police marchers but will step aside once their march starts, according to organizer Grace Frutos.
Frutos, a Sunnyside resident who says she has organized several “defund the NYPD” protests in Queens, said her group is not happy with the pro-police rally.
She said the pro-police ralliers have misunderstood the goals of the “defund” movement.
“They think that we are against police and that we want to hurt them and that’s just not the case,” Frutos said.
She said that certain sections of society are being mistreated by police due to a lack of training and they want this to change.
The group wants the police to get better training in de-escalation tactics, mental health programs and in social work, she said.
“We want them to recognize that their loved one is part of this oppressive, hateful and racist system,” she said. “We want them to understand that and help us change that.”
Frutos said that they also want a portion of the NYPD budget to be invested in better education for communities of color. She said that this will prevent people from committing crimes in the future because poor education and poverty are linked to higher crime levels.
The group will hold signs and posters with some of their positions written across them in order to get their message across.
“We do not intend to engage with them and the majority of our protest will be done in silence,” she said.
Frutos said that they will briefly break their silence to lay out some of their positions. She said they will then peacefully move out of the way and let the pro-police ralliers carry out their march.
She said her group will also carry posters about criminal justice reform which is fueling racial injustice throughout the community.
Frutos said that alternative systems should be put in place to deal with criminals like restorative justice and transformative justice. These systems often involve the victim and the offender meeting and reconciling with one another.
“Instead we’re putting them in boxes and we’re not helping them heal their hearts and their brains,” she said.