Puerto Ricans march against police brutality despite cancellation of Puerto Rican Day parade due to COVID

Nearly a thousand people rallied at Adam Clayton Powell Jr State Office Building, then marched to the Peoples Church on 111st and Lexington Ave. (Photo by Jon Farina)

By Todd Maisel

Constance Malcolm, mother of Ramarley Graham who was shot and killed by NYPD, speaks to the crowd, a few hundred people rallied at Adam Clayton Powell Jr State Office Building, then marched to the Peoples Church on 111th St. and Lexington Ave.

While the annual The National Puerto Rican Day Parade was not able to march up Fifth Avenue in New York City as usual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it didn’t mean there wouldn’t be a march.

Instead, the parade turned into a protest march for black lives and against police brutality entitled “Reclaim the PR Day Parade,” on the upper west side of Manhattan Sunday afternoon.

Several hundred started at the Mitchell Square Park on Broadway and West 167th Street and marched to the State Office Building on West 125th Street where they were met by hundreds more protesters carrying Puerto Rican flags and holding posters against police brutality. In all, police estimated the crowd to be nearly 1000.

Nearly 1000 people rallied at Adam Clayton Powell Jr State Office Building, then marched to the Peoples Church on 111st and Lexington Ave. (Photo by Jon Farina)

The crowd then began marching through the streets of Harlem, expressing their support for the Black Lives movement and against police brutality. The crowd was reportedly overwhelmingly peaceful and police did not interfere.

A focus of the parade and other programs of the day was the Puerto Rican community’s solidarity with black people around the world by showcasing the traditional dance of Bomba, an Afro-Puerto Rican tradition of music and dance that represents resistance, survival, celebration, and healing. Bomba originates from the black slaves who worked on the sugar plantations in 17th century Puerto Rico. Today, Bomba has become an artistic and culturally meaningful form of protest and a symbol of pride.

One of those marching at the State Building was Constance Malcolm, mother of Ramarley Graham who died at the hands of police.

“The other day I heard Gov. Cuomo say that the protesters should stop now,” Malcolm shouted. “No – we are not going to stop because just two nights ago we had another killing in Georgia. That goes to show you that they don’t care and are not going to stop. So we can’t stop! We need transparency, we need accountability, and what does that look like? These officers need to go to jail. They do the time for the crime they commit.”

Malcolm added at the march, “So Cuomo, you say the protests should stop now because you gave us 50-A and special prosecutor. Not until these officers are in jail.”

Constance Malcolm, mother of Ramarley Graham who was shot and killed by NYPD, speaks to the crowd. (Photo by Jon Farina)

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