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Protest

Annemarie Lopez holds a police pin for her brother Christie Masone, an officer who died in the line of duty June 22. Photo by Kyle Barr

Crowds numbering in the several hundreds rallied at the corner of Route 112 and 347 in Port Jefferson Station June 22 calling for people to support police. It was a counterpoint to the over 100 protests all across Long Island calling for an end to police violence for the past several weeks.

People waved thin blue line flags and held signs supporting police reading “back the blue” and “respect and honor our law enforcement.”

The pro-police rally came three weeks after a protest against police violence in the same location, which some local progressive activists have called “resistance corner.” Some came with flags, signs or hats supporting President Donald Trump (R). Most people in the crowd at the June 22 rally were not wearing face masks, compared to other recent protests where the majority were wearing some kind of face covering.

Suffolk County Police officers stood at both sides of the protest line and entrance to the small park, and others milled about the crowd, with many people thanking them for their service. Most cars passing by honked in support, though there was a small number of counter protesters holding signs supporting Black Lives Matter on the other side of Route 347. Towards the start of the rally a woman pulled to the side of the road and got out of her car, cursing at the people standing on the sidewalk who responded with expletives of their own before a cop came by to tell her to get back in her car.

People at the rally said police have become disrespected since the start of the nationwide protests after the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd in police custody. Though they admitted what the police did in that situation was wrong, when one officer leaned his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes until EMTs arrived, they said most cops want to do good.

Annemarie Lopez, of Port Jefferson, said she was at the rally in remembrance of her brother, Christie Masone along with his partner Norman Cerullo who were shot and killed in the line of duty in 1978.

“There are good cops and bad cops, but these are people putting their lives on the line,” Lopez said.

Others said the calls for police budgets to be cut will ultimately make the Island less safe.

“Cops are being treated unfairly — this will be detrimental to our safety, we don’t need cuts to police,” said Maria Leonette, a nurse at Stony Brook University Hospital.

The Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association had a large presence, sporting a trailer which handed out water to people during the hot June afternoon.

PBA President Noel DiGerolamo saw it as an incredible turnout that showed a “humbling support for the men and women of law enforcement. The silent majority isn’t silent anymore.”

At the height of the rally, the crowds gathered under the trees in the center of the park to hear people speak, including former chairman of the Suffolk County Republican Party John Jay LaValle, who was introduced as a spokesperson for Trump.

One of the two main organizers for the rally, Jonathan Stuart of Manorville, said “I could not let the broad stroke of social justice, virtue signaling and cancel culture paint all the police in the shot of the heinous death of George Floyd,” adding, “Is every person who puts on their bullet proof vest, turn their radio on, holster their pistol, shine their badge and kiss their family goodbye a murderer? No. Racist? No.”

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Protesters marched through Port Jefferson June 18 to call for an end to police brutality and racism. Photo by David Luces

Well over 200 protesters walked through Main Street in Port Jefferson Village June 18, calling for an end to police brutality and systemic racism. It was just one of countless other protests going on nationwide since the killing of Minneapolis man George Floyd at the hands of police three weeks ago.

Malachi Moloney, the speaker of the house for the Black Student Union at Stony Brook University, and who was at the head of facilitating and promoting the protest, said he was happy with the overall turnout.

“It means the world to me — we wanted people to leave here with a better understanding of the movement and hope we gave them examples of how to be a better ally. I think we did that,” he said.

The SBU student said the reason they chose Port Jeff as the site of the march was to give people perspective on how black communities feel on Long Island.

“Places like this, they think the status quo is serving the majority,” Moloney said. “This protest shows that we are not happy with the status quo. If you come together with a singular purpose in mind, there’s great power in that.”

Moloney said there is more work to be done.

“We are continuing the movement that has swept the nation. In the last two weeks we have had more progress from a civil rights standpoint since 1964,” he said. “That’s the repeal of 50a, the charging of Rayshad Brook’s murderers, we are still waiting on Breonna Taylor’s case.”

Jarvis Watson, Assistant Dean for Multicultural Affairs at Stony Brook University, marched with the protesters and lauded the young people who were in the demonstration.

“I want to thank these young people for being here, making sure and recognizing that Black Lives Matter,” he said. “They are not just our future, they are our now. We have to make establishments take the knee off those who are oppressed.”

Amara Ayler, from Huntington, spoke on her experiences being black on Long Island.

“It’s not OK for me to fear walking to school and I see a police car and I fear for my life for no reason because I have a backpack on. It’s not right. It’s not fair,” she said. The police are supposed to make us feel safe. The police have never made me feel safe ever in my life. They’re supposed to protect and serve.”

Ayler said every time she hears Breonna Tayler’s name, she hears her own name.

“Amara Ayler, Breonna Taylor, it sounds similar,” she said. “It could be me, I don’t want to be another name on a list, I don’t want to be a poster or t-shirt. It’s not OK.”

Sound Beach resident Emily Marciano, right, with her son Dontae participated in a protest in Rocky Point June 12. Photo by Kyle Barr

In light of the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis and the subsequent protests locally and nationwide, Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) hosted a virtual forum June 11 to discuss race and policing on Long Island. Speakers included civil rights activists, law enforcement reform experts, NAACP and New York Civil Liberties Union leaders, also local attorneys. 

Exploring the Blue Line: A Real Discussion on the Reality of Race, a more than two-hour discussion touched on a number of topics including needed policy changes, police reform on Long Island and what must continue to be done in order to make meaningful change. 

Tracey Edwards, NAACP Long Island regional director, said systemic racism goes beyond the police system. 

“We have entrenched policies and practices that have been in place to either harm a group as a whole or in part, intentionally or not,” she said. “This is the structure that treats race differently.”

“When we look at the police, we don’t see ourselves, we see others.”

— Jose Perez

It is a real problem that is not going away, she added. 

“You have Larry Kudlow, who is the top economic person for the country who stood in front of a microphone and said we do not have any institutional or systemic issues,” she said. “If we first have to convince those that are in power that there is a problem — our issues are far broader than we thought.”

Despite New York State recently voting to institute several police reform policies, including the repeal of Civil Rights Law 50-a which prevented people from accessing service records of police, Edwards said there is more work to be done. 

“We’re just getting started, this is just one piece of the issue,” said the NAACP Long Island regional director. “It is going to take a lot to fix a lot of the issues we face — it’s going to take a lot to fix a lot of the issues we face. On Long Island it runs deep.”

The panelists discussed the demographics of Long Island police officers. 

Jose Perez, deputy general counsel for LatinoJustice PRLDEF, a New York-based national civil rights organization, said people of color including African Americans make up a small percentage of officers in both Nassau and Suffolk counties. 

A 2016 study done by the NYCLU, dubbed “Behind the Badge,” found that people of color in Suffolk accounted for 13 percent of the police department. Out of the 136 individuals in upper ranks, only five were people of color. In Nassau, people of color make up 18 percent of the department, a total of 70 officers “in addition to the 326 white sworn personnel.” Of the 47 personnel who held positions other than detective, only three were people of color.

“When we look at the police, we don’t see ourselves, we see others,” Perez said. “That contributes to the overall policing impact on people of color.”

Frederick Brewington, a civil rights attorney from Hempstead, said the structure in departments makes it difficult for people of color to move up the ladder as well. 

“Even though there may be a small percentage that make it into the ranks of a police department, those individuals are likely to never get to the ranks above sergeant,” he said. “Even those that get to that level or above, their longevity is usually not very long. Their culture is one that is not welcoming to individuals who may be people of color, particular African Americans.” 

The disparities have trickled down to other areas of the criminal justice system. 

Derrick Magwood and Larry Flowers, attorneys and members of the Amistad Long Island Black Bar Association, said there are very few attorneys of color in local courthouses. 

“In Nassau, there are maybe five or six [attorneys] in criminal defense and two at the district attorney’s office,’’ Flowers said. 

In Suffolk, there four of five attorneys but both Magwood and Flowers said they haven’t seen an attorney of color in the DA’s office. In district court, there are currently two African American judges but none in county court. 

Edwards also brought up how these disparities are seen in public education on the Island. 

“Long Island, out of 642 schools, 61 percent do not have a single black teacher,” she said. “That’s 212,000 children who will never interact with a black teacher from kindergarten to 12th grade. That’s not just an impact on black children, that’s an impact on all children.”

“The reason why police struggle with dealing with the systemic issues is because they don’t have the background education.”

— Frederick Brewington

Perez spoke on overt police bias, which “can be formed by what they have experienced, or what they have been taught.” He added, “They feel like they could get away with it based on their privilege, uniform and color of their skin. It is important we understand this reality and we have to address it head on.” 

Brewington said it comes down to inadequate training. 

“The reason why police struggle with dealing with the systemic issues is because they don’t have the background education,” he said. 

The civil rights attorney said he believes they are asked to do a job they are not equipped to do. 

“Six months of training at the [Police] Academy, when someone goes to be a doctor, psychologist or social worker, it takes them a minimum of four years,” Brewington said. “Then they are given a gun and told to go out and enforce — not help, but enforce.”

Other panelists agreed that six months at the academy is not enough and called for a minimum of two years. 

In terms of additional police reform and policy changes, individuals mentioned increasing body-camera funding at the county, village and town levels. The need for some type of automatic penalty if an officer is found tampering with his or her body camera, yearly mental health evaluations for officers, an outside investigator to step in when it comes to cases of police brutality and misconduct, better cultural sensitivity and diversity training, and civilian review boards.

“We have to stay the course — we need to coalesce and act together,” Perez said. “This struggle will not be won individually. Every individual coming together becomes a force to be reckoned with.”

Several hundred protesters stood along Nesconset Highway in Stony Brook June 7 to protest police violence and racism after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Sunday marks nearly a week of constant protests all across Long Island. Photo by Mike Reilly

George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis two weeks ago spurred nationwide protests and renewed conversations on police brutality and systemic racism in this country. TBR News Media reached out to prominent leaders in the black community to get their perspective on what needs to change and what immediate actions can be taken as we move forward. Here’s what they had to say.

Al Jordan. Photo from Stony Brook University

Al Jordan, clinical associate professor at Stony Brook Medicine and former dean for Student and Minority Affairs: 

We will need to work on life after the protests end, that’s when the hard work really starts. We will really need to see change in policy and in laws, not just on the national level but the local level as well. 

Voter registration — getting more people to vote — is the most immediate change we can work on right now. It will take educating people, including family, friends and community members. It means engaging with people, it’s tough work but people can listen and be persuaded. Some may not, but it is another effective way of change. 

You look at the segregation on Long Island, whether it’s in housing or in school districts, the racial, social and economic disparities — it feeds into the larger issue. 

When it comes to training police officers, it has to begin with the individual person. What’s on their mind, how do they feel? Act on that framework. You also have to change the people who run things and who are at the top. 

I’m optimistic, I believe in people. I see it in the young people, something that’s different from what I and others were doing in the 1960s. They have been able to bridge the gap, that cultural divide, and been able to find that common ground. 

It has given me a lot of hope, seeing these young people like my own grandchildren engaging in these positive activities and important discussions. 

Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon. Photo by Kevin Redding

Errol Toulon Jr. (D), Suffolk County sheriff: 

All law enforcement need to reevaluate how they train their officers and how they operate. I don’t know how an officer with 18 prior complaints was allowed to continue to interact with the public. 

Unfortunately, due to this recent incident and others like it, mistrust toward law enforcement is at an all-time high. We need to work together to regain that trust. 

It’s having a conversation with them. It starts by talking to them and hearing their concerns, answering their questions and hopefully giving them a good understanding of what we do. 

99 percent of police officers who come to work to serve and protect are good men and women. But those who do wrong need to be held accountable. Supervisors need to be held accountable as well. 

Whether it is additional training or suspension it needs to be addressed immediately. 

One thing departments and agencies can do is increase cultural awareness and diversity training. A lot of times these teachings end once they leave the door of the academy. We have to make sure that officers remain engaged with the black and minority communities. We must have respect for each other. 

Another thing is making sure we are talking to our staff — monitoring their emotional and mental well being. 

[On Monday, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office announced the creation of a community advisory board to give residents an opportunity to meet regularly with the sheriff and staff and discuss concerns. The board will consist of five people from East End townships and five from the western towns in Suffolk. Members will serve for a one-year term.

“Current events have demonstrated that people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds are frustrated with law enforcement, and they have some legitimate reasons to feel this way,” Toulon said in a release.]

Elaine Gross speaks about race at ERASE Racism forum. Photo by Kyle Barr

Elaine Gross, president of Syosset-based nonprofit ERASE Racism: 

There’s currently conversation changing police policy, there’s a legislative package up in Albany that will be voted on soon. I’m pleased to hear that. 

But we also need to have a conversation on how we got to where we are. There is structural racism. 

On Long Island, due to segregation in school districts,, we know public school education looks very different in terms of the resources for black and minority students compared to white students. 

This is a disparity that gets lost — people are not aware of it or just don’t want to talk about it. An education policy needs to be made a priority, and that means increasing the percentage of educators of color in the classroom — that includes Black, Latinx and Asian teachers. We have seen the benefits of students in a diverse learning environment.  

In addition to the package up in Albany, we need an independent prosecutor, not someone who works closely with the police department. We have seen so many cases where so little happens and no charges brought down [on officers accused of misconduct]. It sort of goes away. We need to continue to strengthen race crime measures and increase body cams in law enforcement. 

I’ve had forums with high school students in the past on structural racism, and I believe students are beginning to have a better understanding of what’s happening in the world and are more open to it than adults. I look to the students and young people to carry the movement forward. 

Councilwoman Valerie Cartright. Photo by Phil Corso

Valerie Cartright, Brookhaven Town councilwoman (D-Port Jefferson Station): 

It is clear that there is a movement happening, people are stepping up and saying, “Enough is enough.” 

For 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the George Floyd incident showed white people in this country what it is like to be black in America. Now our voices are being heard. 

There is legislation being passed in New York State that I support that is moving us in the right direction, but it is only scratching the surface. It is a good first step. We need to acknowledge these injustices and take immediate action. 

We should have already had access to disciplinary records of officers — this information should have been made public. Also, we need to change the police culture. We need to make sure police officers feel comfortable in speaking out against bad officers. We have to have strong whistleblower protection. 

I have represented [as an attorney] police officers who have spoken up about their comrades and they often face retaliation for violating or going against the brotherhood. 

The majority of police officers are good people but if we don’t get rid of hate, racism and discrimination in these departments then we are never going to change the system. 

I’m asking everybody to join in this movement, so we can be heard as one voice.

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Protesters returned to Smithtown June 9 to call for an end to racial injustice and police brutality on the day George Floyd was being laid to rest in Houston. The latest demonstration drew a large crowd — at its peak there were more than 1,000 individuals.

The June 9 gathering was the second one to take place in the town in one week.

The protest began at the Smithtown train station on Redwood Lane at 6 p.m., then made its way down Main Street. Groups convened at the intersection of Route 25A and 111 near the Millennium Diner, where everyone began the over 4-mile trek toward Route 347 as they walked down Hauppauge Road.

Additional protesters continued to join the walk as the crowd passed residential areas and neighborhoods. Some residents stood out in front of their homes to cheer on the protesters as they passed.

When protesters made it to the intersection of Route 347 and 111, traffic was shut down in both directions. It was there protesters participated in an 8-minute, 46-second moment of silence, the length of time George Floyd was pinned to the ground under a police officer’s knee. Speeches were given, encouraging people present to continue to be a part of the ongoing movement and to call out injustices.

From there, protesters splintered off into separate groups, some headed toward the 4th Precinct on Veterans Highway, while others walked north on Brooksite Drive from Route 347 and some reconvened back at Main Street.

At 9:30 p.m., Smithtown Public Safety reported that hundreds were on Veterans Highway heading east and several hundred were all still on Main Street.

Stock photo

As hospitalizations continue to decline, Suffolk County is poised to enter Phase Two of a four phase economic reopening on Wednesday, which would include outdoor dining.

The number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 fell by 21 to 158 in the day ending on June 6. The number of residents in Intensive Care Unit beds stayed the same, at 50.

Hospital bed occupancy, meanwhile, was at 63 percent overall and at 56 percent in the ICU.

The number of people who have left the hospital in the last day was 26.

An additional four people died over the last day, raising that grim total to 1,935. The number of people who tested positive for the virus increased by 48, bringing the total to 40,377. the number of people who have tested positive for the antibody stood at 15,757.

Amid generally peaceful protesting, Bellone said there was a report of an incident in Smithtown that is currently under investigation.

The allegation in the Smithtown incident, which occurred last night, was “serious” and involved additional resources, including a hate crimes unit, a fourth precinct detective squad, and a plainclothes unit, as the Suffolk County Police Department is giving it “the highest priority,” said Chief Stuart Cameron.

Separately, County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said he appreciated Governor Andrew Cuomo’s (D) recent decision to allow outdoor high school graduations. The policy, however, only allows 150 people, which will be “difficult on Long Island,” Bellone said on his daily conference call with reporters. He has requested additional flexibility from the state to address the larger communities throughout Suffolk County.

Several hundred people crowded on to the north side of Nesconset Highway in Stony Brook June 7 in one of a series of protests against racial injustice and police brutality from all around Long Island.

Across from Smith Haven Mall, several hundred protesters gathered both along the busy intersection and a small field just behind the police barricades. At one point, police stopped traffic for a time to allow protesters to march down the road. Cars honked horns in support, and some drove by holding their own signs in solidarity with those at the rally.

Protesters shouted lines such as “no justice, no peace.” People also laid on their stomachs with their hands behind their backs, much as Minneapolis man George Floyd was May 25 when the now-fired officer Derek Chauvin pushed his knee into Floyd’s neck. The crowd shouted while on the ground, “I can’t breathe,” some of the last wods Floyd spoke.

Suffolk County has had around 85 protests since the killing of Floyd more than a week ago, according to County Executive Steve Bellone (D).

All photos by Mike Reilly

Hundreds of cars huddled in the right lane going east along Veterans Memorial Highway Sunday, June 7. Streaming off Northern State Parkway, the caravan of cars came from Nassau County’s seat of power to Suffolk, all to promote black lives and black efficacy after the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd.

In a day which saw other protests along the North Shore including in Stony Brook and Smithtown, the rally that took place at the Suffolk County executive seat in Hauppauge drew crowds from as far east as the north and south forks and as west as the far edges of Nassau County as part of the NAACP Caravan for Change. Protesters called for an equality of access to housing, loans for businesses and a general end to prejudice. In addition to banning police use of chokeholds and stricter repercussions for officers who commit unwarranted violence, they also prompted bills in Albany to end what’s known as 50-a, a provision in the state’s civil rights code that heavily restricts people from accessing police service records.

Tracey Edwards, the Long Island Regional Director of the NAACP, said one can be for police, but also be against police misconduct. Between speakers at the podium, she added it was also time to recognize the numerous young activists who are helping to lead many protests of the past several days.

“One of the main things we need to do as a community is to identify the young leaders, and pass the baton to them,” Edwards said. “It’s critical that we let young people lead.”

Three young members of the Huntington community have led some of the first protest marches in Huntington and spoke at the June 7 rally about their efforts and examples of racism they experienced while marching. Owner of the Italian restaurant Tutto Pazzo, Luigi Petrone, called protesters animals and savages and said he wanted to throw watermelons at those marching. 

“We were angry naturally, but instead of going about it in an irrational way, we decided to reorganize and mobilize again, but this time take the protest directly to his restaurant,” Kenny Charles, one of the three young protest organizers said. He added they received massive support from the community for their protest in front of Pazzo, with people even dropping off watermelons to protesters in response to Petrone’s comments.

The owner of Pazzo has since shared apologies for his comments in a video posted online.

They said the point of their protests is to show the solidarity of the community, and express the worth of their money, which would not go to support business owners who would discriminate against them. Instead, it should go to supporting and promoting black-owned businesses.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone also spoke at the rally. He cited the county replacing Tom Spota as county district attorney who was “systematically targeting black males,” he said, also citing adding more diversity to the county’s Department of Human Resources, Personnel and Civil Service

A few members of the assembled crowd yelled back at him saying “what are you planning?”

“When we talk about systemic change in law enforcement, that is needed, but that is not enough.” Bellone said. “We need systemic structural change in housing, in education and representation in all forms of our government.

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Long Islanders marching down Smithtown’s Main Street June 7 wanted residents to hear their cries — “Black Lives Matter.”

Protesters began to rally Sunday afternoon in front of Stop & Shop slightly east of the town’s iconic Whisper the Bull statue. The protest that was originally scheduled for 2 p.m. was switched to 4 p.m. the night before, and while some still came early, the crowd grew to more than 1,000 as the hour approached 4.

Protesters holding signs that read “Black Lives Matter,” “Say Their Names,” “If You Don’t Care, You’re the Problem,” “The Names Change But the Color Doesn’t,” and more were mostly greeted with drivers honking support and even some passengers sticking their arms and heads out of car windows and sunroofs to show their own signs.

Around 5 p.m., Suffolk County Police Department officers began blocking off Main Street with vehicles. Officers both on foot and bicycles lead the protesters eastward from Stop & Shop along the town’s main corridor.

Along the way, just as they did in front of Stop & Shop, the protesters yelled “Black Lives Matter,” “No Justice, No Peace,” “Take Your Knee off My Neck,” and shouted the names of victims of police brutality, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

As they approached the train station and Katie’s bar where counter-protesters stood waving American flags, the BLM group stopped, and although words were exchanged, including obscenities, no violence ensued at the spot.

The BLM protesters then proceeded to Smithtown’s Town Hall where they stopped to chant for a few minutes. Officers then continued escorting them to the intersection of Main and Route 111, where some protesters took a knee. Then participants headed back to the Stop & Shop parking lot, and officers helped with traffic control as many left Smithtown at the same time.

Town of Smithtown spokeswoman Nicole Garguilo said the rally was a peaceful one, and she complimented the SCPD for a wonderful job.

SCPD reported that during the protest one male was treated for minor injuries at the scene, but they did not disclose how the injuries occurred. Fourth Precinct detectives, 4th Squad and Suffolk County Hate Crimes Unit are also investigating another incident involving alleged violence against a protester. A person calling himself Alejandro, who said he lives close to Smithtown, posted to Instagram, under the name ivpokko, that after the protest he was attacked by people antagonizing him and others at the march. Another rally is scheduled in response to the alleged incident in Smithtown June 9 at 6 p.m. by the train station. An attempt to reach Alejandro through social media for a comment was unsuccessful.

Before the protest, town representatives and the SCPD met with organizer Caitlyn Matos-Rodriquez to ensure that the event remained peaceful.

A week before the protest a flyer promoting the event circulated through social media. The flyer depicted marchers holding up their fists in the classic black power symbol, though it also depicted fires from Minneapolis and included the words “Bring your spirit in all its inferno.”

Many Smithtown residents and business owners feared that the protest would become violent, prompting a few proprietors to sit outside of their stores during the event, while other business owners handed out water to those who were participating.

In an interview with TBR News Media before the protest, Matos-Rodriguez said there had been much misinformation on social media about her and the planned protest. Because of the misinformation and rumors, she had received multiple violent threats to her and other protesters from residents.

“I have never condoned violence on this protest,” she said. “My goal of this protest is to bring our voices into segregated towns of Long Island. Our roots on Long Island rival next to Jim Crow [laws] of the south — you can see that by the geography of Long Island alone.”

Matos-Rodriguez added the point of the protest was to help open up more job opportunities, real estate opportunities and credit building opportunities for marginalized people of color.

For more photos, visit www.tbrnewsmedia.com.

Updated June 8 at 4 p.m. to add additional information on alleged attack.

First Presbyterian Church of Smithtown. Photo by Tom Caruso

Churches, mosques and synagogues can reopen as Suffolk County enters Phase Two of its reopening this Wednesday, albeit with only 25 percent capacity.

Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that these houses of worship could admit community members and that religious leaders were responsible for ensuring compliance with the public health guidelines designed to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s an important time for our faith-based communities to be opened back up,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on his daily conference call with reporters. “Our faith-based communities are ready to this. They understand what needs to be done.”

Separately, as protests continue on Long Island and throughout the world after the killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd at the hands of a former police officer, who has been charged with his murder, public officials are engaging in ongoing conversations with community leaders bout ways to create greater equity and opportunity for everyone.

“There are areas for us to make progress,” Bellone said. “There is more work to be done.”

Bellone suggested the police department can look to make itself more diverse so that it “reflects in terms of its diversity the communities it serves across the county. That’s a priority for us.”

Bellone said conversations about equal opportunities occurred before the killing of Floyd and are moving into a “new phase” amid the protests and demonstrations.

Viral Numbers

The number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 rose by 39 to 40,239 over the last day.

The number of residents in the hospital due to the pandemic declined by 13 to 200, while the number of people in Intensive Care Unit beds declined by one to 53 through June 4th.

An additional 24 people left the hospital over the last day.

The number of people who died due to complications related to COVID-19 in the last day was five, bringing the total to 1,923.