“It’s a slap in the face,” Jamie Gonzalez, 57, a Marine infantryman who saw combat during Operation Desert Storm, told the New York Post.
“For many of us, a parade is a form of closure,” he added. “We gather together and support each other.”
The United Staten Island Veterans Organization has sponsored the parade for decades but was denied a permit this year. The New York Police Department told leaders of the parade that de Blasio’s emergency executive order on public events during the coronavirus pandemic restricts their annual march.
“I’m incensed,” Ted Cohen, 82, an Air Force reservist during the Cuban missile crisis, told the New York Post. “It’s pathetic.”
Despite the lack of approval for the Memorial Day event, other parades and protests have taken place in the city, including on May 1, when a marijuana rally was held. There have also been repeated Black Lives Matters protests over the last year and a St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
“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.”
One unidentified city official told the outlet that many marches are also held without approval from the city.
“People are just marching. That’s the new normal,” the official said. “The Staten Island people had the decorum and respect to go the proper way, [and] they are suffering for their civic-mindedness."
“No one else is even asking permission,” the official added.
The NYPD told the New York Post that the department has issued no parade permits amid the pandemic but that officers have provided security services for other parades and events.
Local attorney Brendan Lantry sent a letter to the NYPD last week demanding a parade permit, adding that a lawsuit will be filed if one is not received by this week.
“Under the equal protection clause, it’s unconstitutional for the city to pick and choose between groups like this,” Lantry said. “There’s a clear double standard going on here.”
The veterans’ permit application estimated that 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 mayor’s office did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment.