‘It’s Pathetic’: NYC Veterans Furious At De Blasio For Blocking Memorial Day Parade After Permitting Cannabis Parade

"... for the city to put dopeheads over vets is just dishonoring us."
Demonstrators march in the annual NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally in support of the legalization of marijuana for recreational and medical use, on May 1, 2021 in New York City.
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

A group of New York City veterans are furious at Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for blocking a permit for Staten Island’s 102nd annual Memorial Day parade, despite allowing demonstrators to march in the Cannabis Parade on May 1.

“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.”

Gulf War veterans such as Gonzalez were slated to receive special recognition during this year’s parade to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the conflict, but the city denied a permit to the United Staten Island Veterans Organization, which is comprised of 16 local veterans groups that have sponsored the annual march for decades. The New York Police Department informed the organizers of the parade that the march had to be restricted under de Blasio’s emergency executive order on public events.

“I’m incensed,” Ted Cohen, 82, an Air Force reservist during the Cuban Missile Crisis, told the New York Post. “It’s pathetic.”

In addition to the May 1 march for marijuana, other outdoor marches and events have taken place in New York City since the pandemic began, such as a St. Patrick’s Day parade and the Black Lives Matter protests, both of which de Blasio joined.

After the death of George Floyd last summer, de Blasio participated in the “East Harlem Pray and Protest.” Even after he began to feel sick, he refused to get tested for COVID-19, which prompted Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens) to tell the New York Daily News, “He wrote the book on hypocrisy. During his six years as mayor, he’s been nothing but a hypocrite on most things and this is a great example.”

During the May 1 Cannabis Parade, in which Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and New York Attorney General Letitia James participated, demonstrators carried an enormous blunt down the street that said “Biden, c’mon man!” among other things.

“Look, have any parade you want, I have no problem with that,” said Volker Heyde, 78, who is the commandant of Staten Island’s Marine Corps League. “But for the city to put dopeheads over vets is just dishonoring us.”

An unnamed official told the New York Post, “People are just marching. That’s the new normal. 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.”

In a letter sent to the NYPD on Friday, attorney Brendan Lantry demanded a parade permit by Monday and pointed to 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 wrote in part. “There’s a clear double standard going on here.”

Related: New York Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

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