Musician and outspoken conservative activist Ted Nugent will no longer appear at tomorrow’s planned “Back the Blue Demonstration” in Eisenhower Park, following backlash by community members and local elected officials.
Nugent, 71, was originally invited to sing the National Anthem at the rally, which is sponsored by the nonprofit organization Law Enforcement Officers Weekend. In a statement issued Friday afternoon, the organization confirmed Nugent would not perform, speak or otherwise participate in the rally.
“The purpose of this demonstration is to bring people together in support of the men and women of law enforcement,” the statement said. “While we whole heartedly appreciate anyonewho supports the men and women in blue, including Mr. Nugent, the controversy over his appearance is contrary to the objectives of the demonstration.”
A board member of the National Rifle Association, Nugent has drawn intense criticism for decades, including for a 1990 Detroit Free Press interview where he defended the institution of apartheid in South Africa by stating “apartheid isn’t that cut-and-dry. All men are not created equal.” In recent years, Nugent has also come under fire for continued racist remarks, an anti-Semitic Facebook post, use of derogatory terms to describe Democratic leaders and for labeling Parkland shooting survivors as both “liars” and “poor, mushy-brained children.”
Both the Nassau and Suffolk County Police Benevolent Associations released statements condemning Nugent Friday afternoon, with James McDermott, president of the Nassau County PBA, stating that his PBA would not participate in or support a rally Nugent attends.
“We are hopeful that tomorrow many will be able to hear the essential pro-police message that must be advanced in our county and our country,” McDermott said. “Should the event go forward tomorrow without Mr. Nugent, we expect that all elected officials in our county will join with us and our residents to demonstrate their support for our dedicated members who serve and protect the public every day.”
The community response against Nugent picked up Thursday night, when six Democratic Nassau County legislators including Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams, Siela Bynoe, Carrié Solages, Debra Mulé, Ellen Birnbaum and Arnold Drucker issued a joint statement in which they called Nugent a “bigot,” and called for his invitation to be rescinded.
“During his life in the public eye, Ted Nugent has consistently espoused racist, misogynistic,
homophobic, anti-Semitic and xenophobic bile,” the statement said. “The vitriol he espouses is an affront to the promise of ‘liberty and justice for all’ that is central to our nation’s Pledge of Allegiance.”
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran posted her own statement to Twitter on Thursday night, in which she said there is “no room for bigotry or bias” in Nassau County by Nugent or others.
“Extremely disappointed that Ted Nugent, a man with a history of hate-filled speech, is invited to attend Saturday’s rally in Nassau,” Curran said. “Our Police Department is the finest in the Country and our officers deserve admiration in a setting that we can all be proud of.”
On Friday afternoon, Curran confirmed in a statement that Nugent would not attend the rally, but said the reason for his absence is because he was “reminded of New York State’s quarantine orders and Nassau County’s protest protocols.” Travelers to New York from over 30 states with significant community coronavirus spread are required to quarantine for 14 days per Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order.
“Nassau County will continue to protect our residents’ right to safe, peaceful protest as is guaranteed under the FirstAmendment of our Constitution,” Curran said. “However, we won’t tolerate blatant violations of the Governor’s quarantine order for travelers from high-risk states, which is designed to protect the health and safety of Long Islanders.”
Curran said Congressman Clay Higgins (LA-3) who is also scheduled to speak at the rally, has been advised of the quarantine order.
Another figure to receive significant community scrutiny ahead of tomorrow’s rally, Higgins was found to have used excessive force on a Black bystander and lied to investigators while working for the Opelousas Police Department in Louisiana in 2007. Higgins later stepped down from the department before receiving the results of an internal affairs investigation into the incident, according to the Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate.
Among other expected speakers at the demonstration are Law Enforcement Today CEO Kyle Reyes, public speaker and retired Horry County, South Carolina, Chief Deputy Paul Butler, Town of Hempstead Councilman Anthony D’Esposito and retired NYPD Detectives Rob O’Donnell and David Chianese.