A veterans’ group said on Monday it will sue New York City if it is not allowed to hold its annual Memorial Day parade after the group was denied a permit for the event. The group said the city displayed a double standard by allowing Black Lives Matter protests, as well as several other parades, to gather across the city for months.
The United Staten Island Veterans’ Organization, an association comprised of 16 local military service member groups, submitted the request for a parade permit in February and received the denial in March, Staten Island Live reported.
The veterans’ organization projected that around 1,000 participants would march down Forest Avenue from Hart Boulevard to Greenleaf Avenue, an 18-block stretch of the leafy commercial street in West Brighton, according to the New York Post, but the NYPD denied their request.
The Post reported that the request was denied due to Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio’s executive order restricting public events as a result of the dwindling COVID-19 pandemic.
The group intends to sue the city over its decision.
“Under the equal protection clause, it’s unconstitutional for the city to pick and choose between groups like this,” attorney Brendan Lantry said. “There’s a clear double standard going on here.”
“All we ask for is fairness under the law,” said John Haynes, CEO of the USIVO.
This would be the 102nd Memorial Day parade in New York City celebrating American troops. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the Gulf War, and vets of the conflict were set to be given special honors at the event.
While the veterans’ parade permit was denied, other events have been approved, including Black Lives Matter protests.
The demonstrations, which frequently turned into violent riots, have been allowed in New York City for nearly a year, with the mayor himself even participating. A “cannabis pride” parade that took place on May 1, and a St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 17 were also approved by the city.
“It’s a slap in the face,” Jamie Gonzalez, 57, a Marine infantryman who was deployed during Operation Desert Storm, told the New York Post. “For many of us, a parade is a form of closure. We gather together and support each other.”
Around 200 marijuana enthusiasts marched down Broadway last week, carrying a giant inflatable joint. The events’ organizers received a permit from the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the Post reported. A spokesman for the group remarked, “We had a police escort the whole way, they shut traffic down, all that stuff.”
Several top officials even attended the event, including Democrat New York Senator Chuck Schumer and Attorney General Letitia James.
“Look, have any parade you want, I have no problem with that,” said 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.”