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Editorial: The 108 Pct. Police Rally Was a Deeply Troubling Event

Diane Ballek speaking at the pro-police rally on Aug. 22 (Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

Aug. 24, 2020 Editorial: Queens Post

The pro-108 police rally in Sunnyside was a low point Saturday and showed how fractured our city and nation has become.

We were deeply saddened when we left the event—by the loss of humanity that became apparent. People have forgotten that good people can have differences of opinion and view the world differently. It made us feel like the great country we have immigrated to may have taken an ugly turn.

The organizers of the pro-police rally are people we have known for years and are active members of the Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island community. Many of them volunteer at food pantries, organize toy drives for children in shelters, form boys and girls clubs, clean up graffiti, raises funds for the less fortunate and more.

You may disagree with their rally—and their beliefs–but people have lost sight of the people involved. To us, it was sad to see these good people treated with contempt, disdain and disrespect. They may be misguided, in the eyes of many, but they are not awful racists as some would like to call them.

The Queens Post has covered western Queens for more than a decade and we have gone to more civic meetings, non-profit events and public meetings than we care to remember. Therefore, we know most of these people and what they have contributed.

Take the main rally organizers— Diane Ballek, Richard O’Connor and Mark Wilensky.

Ballek organizes a toy drive every holiday season, where the hundreds of items she collects are then distributed to children at shelters. She works with restaurants to make sure that low-income families receive free meals at a number of events during the year. Her brother—who was a detective in the NYPD– was killed as a result of 9/11. She has been on the community board for years.

Meanwhile, O’Conner has been a volunteer at the St Raphael’s food pantry in Long Island City for more than 20 years. He also works with a number of civic groups to make sure the less fortunate are cared for.

Then there is Wilensky who has been an active community member for decades. He was a co-founder of the Woodside Sunnyside Boys and Girls Club which provided after-school programming for young children while it existed. He has been a long-time member of the Woodside-Sunnyside Lions Club, which raises money for a number of charities. I’ve seen him organize Easter and Halloween Parties for children whose parents are of limited means.

There were many other long-time civic leaders at the rally too—all who have contributed a great deal over the years.

Yet these people were treated with such derision. They were unable to walk along the pathway in the park. People yelled over them. 

Yes, there is an argument as to why the rally should not have taken place. For instance, many protesters make a good case that the march represented an endorsement of a policing system where black and brown people are routinely beaten and killed. They argue–with evidence to back up their claims– that police officers often abuse their power.

But it’s not always so simple– especially if you know the people.

We saw a number of police officers at the rally that we have grown to appreciate over the years. These are officers we know our elected officials respect too.

For instance, the two community affairs officers—Marcos Torres and Luis Diaz– were there. We always see them at precinct meetings and they have worked with this publication organizing running events in the area, which have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities. Those events would not have occurred without them.

They are always courteous and professional. They have families—we often inquire. They are good men—and represent the diversity of the force.

We saw some of the neighborhood police officers—Xiomara Ramizez and Kenneth McLoughlin, who we have got to know.

These are just some of the cops we saw at the event Saturday.

These pro-precinct supporters were not out there to say—police brutality is ok. They weren’t there to say that they agree with the blue wall of silence. They weren’t there to say police reform or justice reform is not needed.

No, they were out there to tell Diaz, Torres, Ramizez and McLoughlin that they support them and appreciate them.

They were there to say that they won’t turn their backs on them– even though it’s politically expedient to do so.

We were there on Saturday merely as observers—as publishers.

At the end of the event, Diaz turned to us and said: “Thanks for your support, guys.”

Neither one of us had the heart to tell him that we were there to cover it as media. As a result, we felt afterward like we had let down a friend– empty.

Czarinna Andres and Christian Murray, co-publishers of the Queens Post.

email the author: [email protected]

7 Comments

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Bill from Woodside

Saturday’s Rally for the NYPD sponsored by the 108 Precinct Council was a shame.
In the spirit of the organizers to have a pleasant and peaceful gathering in hope of improving relationships fizzled quickly. To say that this was a peaceful event is only based on violence not occurring.
As the small group of police supporters entered Sabba Park on Queens Boulevard, they were encountered by a large group of BLM/ Antifa demonstrators. This group came to intimidate and instigate trouble. They circled individual rally supporters in an attempt to start confrontations. They also crowded around the speakers to bully them as well as disrupt the event with bullhorns, whistles, and chanting. Why the police allowed this to happen to a registered permit holding event and stand mostly on the outside of the park showed a lack of law and order.
Thanks goes out to the 108 Pct. Community Council, Assembly Member Cathy Nolan’s Office in their valent attempt and to Councilmember Bob Holden who was brave enough to speak at the rally.

Reply
FlushTownB

You can volunteer at a charity and still be prejudiced (not saying these people are but one does not negate the other).

Obviously not all cops are bad, but you cannot ignore police brutality (well I suppose you can, but its only an options for those that don’t face it daily). Cops shouldn’t stage “slow downs” every time they see any shimmer of accountability.

Black Lives Matter should not be a controversial statement. Equal rights for all. No freedom ’til we’re equal.
Damn right I support it.

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Merman

All Lives Matter. White Lives Matter what you study the atrocities of the Barbary Slave Trade. There have always been bad people. Life’s not fair. No life matters more or less than the next. Get over it.

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FlushTownB

Saying Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean they matter more than others, but it also means they shouldn’t matter less. It just means that the extrajudicial killings of black people are wrong. It is an affront to the ideals of our Nation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are LIFE, LIBERTY and the pursuit of Happiness.

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Dc

Just get rid of the police..
See how fast the very people that want this beg for them to come back when crime hits them…

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Merman

Thank you for this. The two statements below perfectly summarize the overall intollerance of the Left:

“People have forgotten that good people can have differences of opinion and view the world differently”

“Yet these people were treated with such derision. They were unable to walk along the pathway in the park. People yelled over them.”

The contemporary Left has a mob mentality and has proven for decades their inability to truly integrate communities and unite. Look at what’s happening in Baltimore. Kimberly Klacik’s know’s what’s up and we need that thinking in NYC.

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