A veterans' group is threatening to sue New York City if they are not permitted to hold its annual Memorial Day parade. The United Staten Island Veterans' Organization was denied a permit for the parade, and the group is highlighting a double standard. American military service members are barred from marching in a patriotic parade, yet Black Lives Matter protesters were not only allowed, but encouraged, to hold protests throughout the city for the last year.
This year's Memorial Day parade would be the 102nd running of the distinguished procession to celebrate American service members. This year's parade was specifically going to honor Gulf War veterans since it is the conflict's 30th anniversary.
The United Staten Island Veterans' Organization, an association of 16 local veterans' groups that has sponsored the annual event for decades, filed a request for a parade permit with the New York Police Department on Feb. 27, according to Staten Island Live. The vets' group estimated that approximately 1,000 participants would "march down Forest Avenue from Hart Boulevard to Greenleaf Avenue, a 18-block stretch of the leafy commercial street in West Brighton," the New York Post reported. However, the NYPD denied their request to hold the parade.
The Memorial Day parade was denied because of Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's executive order signed last year restricting public events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The United Staten Island Veterans' Organization points out that Black Lives Matter protests, which have at times escalated into violent riots, have been allowed since May 28, 2020, in reaction to the death of George Floyd.
Last June, thousands gathered in June for a black transgender lives rally in Brooklyn.
De Blasio even participated with a group that did not practice social distancing when they painted "Black Lives Matter" on a Manhattan street.
Last July, the far-left de Blasio argued that Black Lives Matter rallies were permitted while other events were not, "This is a historic moment of change. We have to respect that but also say to people the kinds of gatherings we're used to, the parades, the fairs — we just can't have that while we're focusing on health right now."
The United Staten Island Veterans' Organization note that the Big Apple hosted the New York City Cannabis Parade on May 1. About 200 weed enthusiasts marched down Broadway with a giant inflatable marijuana joint. The Cannabis Parade organizers received a permit from the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, and rally spokesman Stu Zakim gloated, "We had a police escort the whole way, they shut traffic down, all that stuff."
The marijuana event was not only allowed by New York City, but also had high-ranking government officials in attendance, including Democratic New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and Attorney General Letitia James.
The United Staten Island Veterans' Organization plans to sue the city over the decision to prohibit veterans from participating in the Memorial Day parade.
"Under the equal protection clause, it's unconstitutional for the city to pick and choose between groups like this," attorney Brendan Lantry, who is working pro bono for the Staten Island vets, said. "There's a clear double standard going on here."
"All we ask for is fairness under the law," John Haynes, CEO of the USIVO, said.
"It's a slap in the face," Jamie Gonzalez, a Marine infantryman who saw combat during Operation Desert Storm, said. "For many of us, a parade is a form of closure. We gather together and support each other."
"I'm incensed," Ted Cohen, an 82-year-old retired Air Force reservist, said. "It's pathetic."
"We have accommodated hundreds of marches, protests and other gatherings even without permits," NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller said. "Any group where the event is planned, the NYPD was made aware and it was conducted peacefully has been accommodated."