By COLlive reporter
Photos, Video: Itzik Roytman
“If we don’t sleep, you don’t sleep!”
That is the message that hundreds of residents of New York City delivered to Mayor Bill de Blasio in the form of a noisy vehicle parade at midnight on Monday.
Angry citizens from around Brooklyn got into their vehicles late on Monday night and drove to Gracie Mansion in what was a grassroots protest over the mayor’s incompetence and lack of leadership, organizers said.
It has been a few weeks now that illegal fireworks are being lit into the sky in populated streets across the city throughout the night, with the highest number of complaints in Brookyn’s neighborhoods.
The New York Police Department is categorically not responding to complaints by residents, despite their dangerous nature and the late hours in which they are being fired off.
One officer told COLlive.com that the department is currently on the defensive with de Blasio supporting the “Defund Police” movement and “not having our backs.”
As cars were driving out from Crown Heights, protest organizer Sam Stern warned participants of the parade that “we are not here to break the law. We are practicing civil disobedience.”
Stern told COLlive he decided to organize the protest because of a similar one he participated in as a teenager during the infamous 1991 riots in Crown Heights.
“Our neighborhood was under attack, and we did not know how to get the Mayor to take action,” Stern says.
“Activist Mordechai Levy, who was the founder of the Jewish Defense Organization, spoke to us and told us that we should all gather in front of Gracie Mansion, and get Mayor Dinkins’ attention. Well, for a few nights, a couple hundred of us got on the subway and traveled to Manhattan, and protested loudly in front of Dinkins’ residence. A few days later, Dinkins mentioned during a radio interview, ‘they don’t let me sleep at night.’ And we knew our message was heard.”
Stern used social media to rally a few hundred Brooklyn residents from 4 different neighborhoods, who drove together to Manhattan. At exactly midnight, drivers were asked to sound their car alarms and honk their horns.
“Our families can’t sleep and our kids are scared,” Stern explained to the gathered crowd, demanding that the mayor take action.
The dozens of cars then parked on 86th Street, causing many in the neighborhood to take notice, as they blared sirens, honked their horns, and revved their engines.
Stern led the crowd with chants of, “If we don’t sleep, you don’t sleep,” as well as “No justice, no peace.”
A while later, the vehicle parade drove to East End Avenue, hoping to get closer to Gracie Mansion, however they remained a few blocks away as metal barricades were set up to keep them at bay.
The exuberant crowd got out of their vehicles anyway, and loudly shouted protests, while horns blared and fireworks exploded in the night sky, giving the Mayor a taste of his own incompetence.
Addressing the crowd were assemblymember candidate Jesse Hamilton, District Leader Geoffrey Davis, as well as congressional candidate Chaim Deutsch, who made the time to join the protest, even on the eve of election day.
“People who have been complaining about the fireworks, their voices are not being heard,” said councilmember Deutsch. “The ones who want to shoot the fireworks, only their voices are being heard. Today we are sending a message, that we are going to say no – we are going to be listening to the voices of those whose lives are being disrupted by these fireworks, the people who are having sleepless nights,” he said.
“We are sending a message to Mayor De Blasio that we want to see leadership here!”