MERRICK, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — A group of Nassau County residents blocked George Floyd protesters from marching through their neighborhood on Tuesday after a social media post sparked fears of looting and riots.
Video taken by News 12 reporter Shari Einhorn shows Merrick residents pointing and shouting at the protesters saying they were not going to allow them to come into the community.
Few can be heard shouting “Go west” – apparently directing them towards more diverse communities to the west on Merrick Road, which the protesters were marching along.
People on Twitter expressed outrage over the anti-protesters antagonizing a peaceful demonstration.
“Utterly disgusted by members of my community. A Black Lives Matter protest in Merrick was met with anti-protesters, many wearing American flags and shouting "F--- you" to those peacefully protesting. Blatant racism displayed in a community that is 92.12% White,” one user posted.
One supporter wrote: “How racist and priveleged (sic) do you have to be to protest against protestors who are against racism?!?!?!”
“A total disgrace. When they say ‘go west’ they mean go back to Hempstead, Malverne, Roosevelt… the predominantly black communities,” Billy Baldwin explained on his Twitter. “In the face of what has happened in this country over the past week… this level of ignorance, intolerance & blatant racism is shocking.”
Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder explains the community members were frightened by a threat they saw circulating on social media. However, he says the threat was not credible.
“We got to stop. We really do. We got to act like grownups. We’re sending messages out and people are cutting and pasting and dropping stuff over and stirring the pot. We had a false call come in yesterday that there were 1,000 people coming through a certain area,” Ryder said.
The Nassau County police commissioner says the false threat was posted to create division within the community.
“People are trying to cause division. They’re trying to divide us. We gotta stop, we just went through a pandemic – you heard the county exec. We lived through this. My cops stood on the frontlines, my paramedics who were out there every day,” he said. “My cops will not tolerate any act of violence.”
Ryder said the police had received several reports over the last 24 hours about yellow crosses being painted on different objects throughout Nassau County that several posts on social media claimed were being used to identify locations where protesters should leave bricks and other items to commit acts of criminal mischief during protests.
In an advisory to residents, Ryder said, "Current investigations have found that the yellow crosses and the words 'Jesus Christ Is God' have been observed for over a month and have nothing to do with the current protests occurring throughout Nassau County and the Country."
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran issued a statement about the social media posts saying, "Although demonstrations on Long Island have remained peaceful, we continue to see concerning rumors circulate online threatening violence or looting in Nassau County. We take these threats very seriously. We want to assure residents that Nassau County PD is taking every precaution necessary to keep residents safe - including those peacefully demonstrating tonight. The dedicated men and women of Nassau County PD have sworn an oath to serve and protect all residents, and that is exactly what they will continue to do."
Nassau County police blocked the protesters from entering Merrick, saying it was over safety issues. News 12 reports they were allowed to walk about four blocks in before being directed out of the neighborhood.
No violence or arrests occurred, according to News 12.