Mayor de Blasio is refusing to permit a gaggle of navy veterans to march on Staten Island on Memorial Day — after welcoming public pot people who smoke to puff their method down Broadway in final week’s Cannabis Parade.
“It’s a slap in the face,” Jamie Gonzalez, 57, a Marine infantryman who noticed fight in Iraq throughout Operation Desert Storm, advised The Post.
Gulf War vets like Gonzalez have been set to be given particular honors in Staten Island’s 102nd annual Memorial Day Parade this yr to mark the 1991 battle’s thirtieth anniversary — till town pulled the plug.
“For many of us, a parade is a form of closure,” Gonzalez mentioned. “We gather together and support each other.”
“I’m incensed,” mentioned Ted Cohen, 82, a retired Air Force reservist who was on alert by means of the Cuban Missile Crisis. “It’s pathetic.”
The United Staten Island Veterans Organization, the affiliation of 16 native vets’ teams that has sponsored the annual march for many years, filed a request for a parade permit with the NYPD on Feb. 27, following the identical process they use yearly in keeping with the city’s official rules.
On March 9, the division nixed the request, citing de Blasio’s emergency govt order proscribing public occasions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. City Hall didn’t reply to a message looking for remark.
The brush-off got here regardless of myriad marches within the final yr which were acknowledged by town, formally escorted by cops, and sometimes featured elected officers within the line of march. They included a slimmed-down St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March, when de Blasio participated; numerous Black Lives Matters protest marches; and the hashish rally and parade May 1, when revelers hoisted an enormous inflatable spliff alongside a 17-block route and heard speeches from Sen. Chuck Schumer amongst others.
One metropolis official mentioned that the vets have develop into caught within the bureaucratic no-man’s-land of de Blasio’s haphazard coronavirus guidelines.
“People are just marching. That’s the new normal,” the official mentioned. “The Staten Island folks had the decorum and respect to go the right method [and] they’re struggling for his or her civic-mindedness.
“No one else is even asking permission.”
The Island vets, whose predicament was first reported within the Staten Island Advance, are enraged by the unequal therapy.
“Look, have any parade you want, I have no problem with that,” mentioned Volker Heyde, 78, the commandant of Staten Island’s Marine Corps League. “But for the city to put dopeheads over vets is just dishonoring us.”
Attorney Brendan Lantry sent a “good faith” letter to the NYPD Friday to demand a parade permit by Monday, citing the Cannabis Parade as precedent.
“Under the equal protection clause, it’s unconstitutional for the city to pick and choose between groups like this,” Lantry mentioned. “There’s a clear double standard going on here.”
The group will file a lawsuit subsequent week if needed, he mentioned. A authorized permit can also be necessary for insurance coverage causes, as many aged vets are collaborating and may need protection in opposition to damage.
The veterans’ permit utility estimated that 1,000 individuals would march down Forest Avenue from Hart Boulevard to Greenleaf Avenue, a 18-block stretch of the leafy business avenue in West Brighton.
About 200 potheads partied on the New York City Cannabis Parade, which culminated in a Union Square rally the place politicians praised the state’s new legal-weed regulation.
But the pot-rally organizers seem to have discovered a again door to get their occasion authorized.
“We got a permit from the Parks Department,” rally spokesman Stu Zakim mentioned. “We had a police escort the whole way, they shut traffic down, all that stuff.”
Lantry referred to as the stealth permit course of “insane.”
“There’s a reason this goes through NYPD — for security for those in the parade and those on the sidelines,” he mentioned. “Parks should have no role in this parade, as it never has for a century.”
Police officers confirmed that they’ve issued no parade permits for the reason that starting of the COVID disaster — however have supplied safety companies anyway to marches and parades that proceed to step off.
“We have accommodated hundreds of marches, protests, and other gatherings even without permits,” mentioned NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller. “Any group where the event is planned, the NYPD was made aware, and it was conducted peacefully, has been accommodated.”
Zakim provided the vets a bit of recommendation: “Try Parks!” he mentioned. “If they can’t get their permit one way, get it another.”