Rockaway Beach’s shoreline tells the story of New York City.
If you walked the beach for an hour or two, you’d pass the small, gated beach community of Breezy Point, the beautiful dunes of Fort Tilden, the large private homes of Neponsit and Belle Harbor, one of the longest boardwalks on the East Coast, and funky, fun beaches full of families capturing all the joy they can, even after sundown on summer nights.
Finally, sections of the peninsula that see nightly violence, two zip codes among the city’s top ten highest mortality rates from COVID-19, that include some of the lowest voter turnout rates in NYC, and comprise many residents who exist – quite literally – on the margins of our city.
As people of color and anti-racist allies nationwide protested the harm that racist policing practices have inflicted on low-income communities of color, a group of residents in sections of town that house many NYPD families raised money to fly a banner over our public beaches reading “Rockaway and Breezy Point Support the NYPD.” The organizer said the fund was started to support the morale of local NYPD personnel, perhaps without considering how polarizing this message might be to some, or the fact that, to many, it is being interpreted as an expression of racial ignorance.
It’s time to show that the unity, values and compassion that residents of this community have supported one another with – levels of which remain almost unheard of in many other parts of the city – can also help Black lives.
The Rockaway Youth Task Force believes in the transformative power of youth organizing to change structural systems and policies. Funds raised by the Task Force help Rockway residents ages 14-24 to work on volunteer projects including an urban farm, a citizen journalism initiative, and other community advocacy efforts. The organization’s key areas of focus are civic engagement, educational equity, criminal justice reform, and food justice, and a guiding principle of the Task Force is that centering on the leadership of young women of color and gender non-conforming youth is crucial for systemic change.