Youth organizers say they were criticized on social media for their support of the Black Lives Matter movement ahead of a pair of peaceful pro-police protests and counter-protests in Marine Park over the weekend.
“I post on Facebook pages where a lot of people in the community are really active,” said 20-year-old Alana Maisel, a lifelong Marine Park resident who co-founded Marine Park Political Youth in June, an organization for younger, left-leaning Marine Park residents. “But every time I get a post on there, I get a lot of pushback. We’ve gotten a lot of threats and uncertainty from adults in the neighborhood.”
Maisel and other members of Marine Park Political Youth had planned to host an art-making event in Marine Park on Saturday, July 18, where attendees created signage for a Black Lives Matter protest scheduled for the following day. The event aimed to engage youth in political activism through art, she said.
“We wanted to create a space for everyone’s individual political goals, feelings and expression, which is what we tried to foster with our previous event,” Maisel said. “We also are planning workshops in the park, any sort of thing that can happen in the public space where we are sharing our ethos of community togetherness and autonomous action.”
But, when Maisel advertised the group gathering on a local Facebook page, some community members branded the youth group as radical and said she should expect to see pro-police protesters — who also planned to rally at the sprawling park on Sunday — at her event.
Some users threatened to crash the youth group’s meeting and one local resident warned he would rip up the young activists’ signs.
Despite the online pushback, the sign-making event on Saturday remained mostly peaceful, Maisel said — much like Sunday’s opposing protests.
“The threats never really seem to turn into anything real,” Maisel said. “When we actually got there, we had a few intimidating stares, people walking really slow and we had police officers from the local precinct on the corner… but that was the extent of it.”
The next day’s Black Lives Matter protest — organized by a popular southern Brooklyn bodybuilder who goes by the name Chula — was scheduled to counter a pro-police rally hosted by the Lieutenant Benevolent Association.
Police officers outnumbered protesters on both sides of the July 19 demonstrations, which drew about 50 Black Lives Matter protesters and a dozen pro-police supporters, observers told AMNY. The weekend’s high temperatures may have led to a drop in attendance, as well as mixed messages about whether or not the pro-police rally had been cancelled.
A post on social media from the Lieutenant Benevolent Association said the pro-police rally had been postponed due to the extreme heat — but a small, passionate group of local residents came out anyway to back the blue.
While some demonstrators exchanged heated words, no physical altercations broke out and no arrests were made.