Kris Dorval has been on the scene of nearly 50 Black Lives Matter protests across Long Island since activists first took to the streets in June, capturing every one — from the marches to the arguments, and, ultimately, to the arrests — on his Nikon DSLR camera.
He has accrued over 1,800 clips of the movement on Long Island, and compiled video from eight of the protests into a short documentary, “The MVMT,” that he released on YouTube on Feb. 8.
“It has been a roller coaster,” the 19-year-old Elmont resident said of his summer of documenting the trials and tribulations of the Long Island Peaceful Protest group. “It was really an eye-opening experience.”
Long Island Peaceful Protest was founded by brothers Tiandre and Terrel Tuosto last June, following the police-involved killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. Their first organized protest took place on June 4, when 500 people marched onto the Southern State Parkway in North Merrick and shut it down for about two hours.
That night, Terrel previously told the Herald, police worked with the protesters to make sure everyone was safe, but when they took to the streets of East Meadow eight days later, “everything was different.”
At the protest in Merrick, Tuosto explained, both sides of the street were cordoned off for the march, but in East Meadow, demonstrators were allowed to march on only one side of Hempstead Turnpike. And, he said, it was the first time police officers drove alongside them and rows of officers marched next to them, pushing back those who veered off course.
When an officer stopped short that afternoon, Terrel bumped into him, and police pulled him down and two officers pinned him to the pavement and handcuffed him. Tiandre had been taken into custody the same way a few minutes earlier, and a third man was arrested in much the same way shortly afterward.
Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and County Executive Laura Curran later defended the officers’ actions in a joint statement that read, “It became necessary” to make the arrests “for the demonstrators’ safety.” The three men were charged with deviating from the route, inhibiting traffic and disorderly conduct.
“They got me on a road like this for obstructing oncoming traffic,” Terrel recounts at another protest in Roslyn that is featured at the beginning of Dorval’s film, “even though there were no cars coming.”
Dorval met the Tuostos the day after that incident, he said, at a rally in Ocean-side. Unfortunately, he said, his camera battery died and he wasn’t able to get any video. Still, he said, he gained the Tuostos’ trust, and followed them to all their planned protests with his camera.
“They’ve been nothing but nice to me,” Dorval said of the Black Lives Matter activists, and over time, he said, his 37-minute-long film came together. It showcases the chants and speeches Terrel gave across Long Island, as well as some of the issues the group faced over the course of several months.
Several members of the group were arrested several times, and were issued summonses for a protest they held in Roslyn. At several points, local residents can be seen expressing their frustrations with the protesters marching through their neighborhoods. One woman in Huntington said they were interrupting her dinner, and another, in Kings Park, told them to “go back to New York City” — even though several protesters were Kings Park natives — and claimed that Irish people were actually the first slaves.
At one point, Dorval interspersed his own footage with some from WNBC-TV, in which Pei-Sze Cheng reported that an SUV drove into two Black Lives Matter protesters in Huntington and then drove away. The driver was charged with third-degree assault.
“I really wanted to expose Long Island and showcase Long Island during the time we lived in,” Dorval said, adding that he had learned a lot about the movement and housing segregation on Long Island while documenting the protests. “For me to be able to go out there and film everything, I think, is important.”
Dorval’s film ends with Long Island Peaceful Protest’s second demonstration in Commack, which begins with a young boy leading the group in chants while sitting on another protester’s shoulders. The group is then once again confronted by residents, after which police ask Terrel Tuosto to keep the protesters on the sidewalk, even though, he said, they had to turn farther up the road.
Police then started touching Tuosto, and eventually started kicking and tackling the protesters to the ground. The video even shows the police stepping on one woman’s head, and the boy who had led the chants earlier crying, “Black lives matter!” as the police drive away with Tuosto in the back seat.
After that, Dorval said, the group stopped protesting for a while. “It really left an impact,” he said, adding that this was the first time he had witnessed police brutality firsthand. “Even when I was editing the film, I felt those same emotions.”
The film took Dorval about five months to edit on DaVinci Resolve Studio, he said. He cut out a lot of material, but kept enough footage so that Long Islanders can be made aware of what has taken place in their towns.
“2020 is definitely a year people are going to remember for a long time,” Dorval said. “I wanted other people to see what it is.” Nonetheless, he decided to keep the film in black and white, so it would be reminiscent of footage from the civil rights movement.
“We’re still fighting that same fight that we fought in the ‘60s,” he said. “It’s the next chapter.”
Dorval’s video can be viewed online at https://bit.ly/3adjJHJ.