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GoFundMe Launched for Sunnyside Business Owner Mowed Down By Car During Protest

Roque Rodriguez (Suryaside Yoga)

Jan. 6, 2021 By Michael Dorgan

A GoFundMe has been launched for a well known Sunnyside business owner who was run down by a car during a protest last month.

Roque Rodriguez, who owns Suryaside Yoga at 49-06 Skillman Ave., had his leg broken when a car plowed through a group of demonstrators in Manhattan on Dec. 11. Rodriguez was struck from behind causing him to flip up onto the vehicle before he came crashing down onto the concrete.

Rodriguez has been unable to work since the incident due to his injuries and Grace Frutos, a local activist, set up the fundraiser to help cover his living expenses and rehabilitation bills.

The GoFundMe has raised nearly $15,000 since it was launched on Dec. 17 with more than 260 people chipping in so far. One donor contributed $1,000.

Rodriguez, 37, said he has been stunned by the outpouring of support that he has received and is proud of the community’s collective spirit.

“I am completely overwhelmed and extremely grateful to those who have donated,” Rodriguez said. “I have so much gratitude and love for Sunnyside and Woodside and it is more money than I ever expected.”

Roque Rodriguez (GoFundMe)

Rodriguez said that the money has provided him with much needed financial and mental relief. He said that without the donations he would have been forced to rush his rehabilitation in order to get back to work and pay for essential bills.

The yoga instructor is not expected to be medically cleared to return to work for another 8 more weeks – nearly 3 months after the incident took place.

Rodriguez said he was fortunate to survive the frightening incident which was captured on video.

“I’m grateful to be alive, alert, and have a functioning mind and spine,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez was injured while marching in support of a group of immigrants who were being detained at the Bergen County Jail in New Jersey. The detainees were on their 28th day of a hunger strike protesting against conditions at the facility and their treatment by ICE agents, Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez was walking on the roadway between 39th Street and Third Avenue at around 4 p.m. when a woman drove a BMW at speed through the crowd and injured a total of six people.

Dramatic video footage shows Rodriguez being struck by the car before being thrown into the air. He then hits the windshield and then the roof of the vehicle before being flung more than a dozen feet forward and then smashing onto the ground.

*Warning, graphic content* Rodriguez is wearing all black in the video.

 

Rodriguez said he never saw the car coming because he had his back turned to it. Another Sunnyside resident, Kayla Almanzar, was also hit by the car and suffered minor injuries.

Rodriguez was taken to Bellevue hospital and treated for his injuries which included a broken fibula in his right leg and other bumps and scratches. He is still on crutches and is having trouble sleeping due to the pain, he said.

Kathleen Casillo, a Rockaway Park resident, was arrested for allegedly driving the car through the crowd, according to police. The 52-year-old has been charged with reckless endangerment, police said.

Rodriguez said that the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis cop in May inspired him to participate in several protests in 2020 and help out the local community.

He traveled to Minneapolis days after Floyd’s death and raised funds for local food pantries there.

He said that he has also helped organize protests for residents of the Astoria Houses who were without cooking gas recently and he also cooked food for them. He has helped with the Queens Community Fridge and done other mutual aid work as well.

Rodriguez said that while Queens is a very diverse borough, more can be done to improve race relations in the community.

He said that his yoga studio will host a workshop about the history of racism next month to help people understand the realities of anti-Black racism. The session is being held in partnership with the African Diaspora Alliance which connects people of African descendants across the world.

“There is a time for a change in the nation and I will always follow my moral compass,” Rodriguez said.

Donations to the Rodriguez GoFundMe page can be made by clicking here.

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36 Comments

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John

Agree with the protests or not, somebody got badly hurt. That somebody is a member of the community who spends a lot of time volunteering and has a small community based business. Time for a bit of compassion.

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Biggie's Ghost

So he’s a professional protester? Did he ever cry Defund the Police? Does anyone else here see the poetic justice?

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Protesting is an American Right, Right to change

Hey Biggie- Were Susan B Anthony, Carey Nation, The Anti Vietnam war protestors of the 60’s & 70’s, were the thousands of First World War veterans from across the United States who gathered in Washington in May and June 1932. These men, whose motto was “Heroes of 1917, hobos of 1932,”, were all these people professional protestors?

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Trump killed 400K People

@Anon- That was very kind of Susan not to interfere with the two cars that were operating in America during the suffragette movement.

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Anon

Traffic from horses, streetcars and omnibuses was actually as bad then as it is now.

Protesting is a privilege.

Peaceful and safe protesting is a privilege, not a right.

Still, at the end of the day, he would be ok if he was where his ass belonged! On the sidewalk!!!

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Your Neighbor

It actually is a right. Our right to protest is protected under the 1st amendment. No one ever said “you’re violating my protesting privileges afforded under the first amendment.” Are you just making things up because it supports your warped view of what should and shouldn’t be? Your comment is the equivalent of a man accused of rape saying “but look what she was wearing, she had it coming.”

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Your neighbor

The cops were there and did nothing to prevent this tragedy. I think the situation only strengthens the argument to defund police.

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#nothanks

The kid who hurt small business owners during the summer of hell protests ? That’s a ringing endorsement

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Guest

I feel really bad for this gentleman, wrong place at the wrong time but was this a permitted protest? Don’t put your life in danger, protest safely and peacefully, perhaps on sidewalk or parks/etc. Don’t block roads and anger people please.

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Your Neighbor

Can I ask what a permit has to do with anything? Did you know that you do not need a permit to exercise your first amendment rights? Also, you say “don’t anger people.” Why?? If you have something to say that makes people mad should you keep it to yourself? And if you don’t and people get mad, are they then justified to do whatever they want to you?

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Guest

Do not block the roads. Just because you have right to free speech, you don’t have right to block roads and stop people from getting where they need to get.
You get a permit for meeting/rally/parade, then you get protected area without risk of being run over. Feel free exercise rights safely. PS: Is there a go fund me for the bmw driver who got his car smashed by cyclists?

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Your Neighbor

First of all, permits don’t protect people. I think you’re intending to say that if they had a permit that the police would protect them, however there was police presence at this protest and they did not protect anyone.

Second, if they had a permit, they still would have been blocking the roadway and this driver couldn’t get where she was going either. Why is it okay to run people over who don’t have a permit as opposed to people who do who are engaged in the same activity.

When a concert or a ballgame ends and the people of New York City flood the streets and jay walk across the road, is a driver justified in hitting them? They don’t have a permit either.

Did you know that there is no law that say you need a permit to gather outside with people?

Did you know that the 1st amendment protects the right to free speech AND the right to assemble?

People like to throw around permits as some gold standard of law abiding, but running people over intentionally is a felony.

I would like for everyone who thinks that they feel bad for his but “what about a permit” to please spend some time with that thought. Just walk through the logic of it. Read about how little “harmless” municipal laws have been used throughout American history to justify harm and oppression to certain groups of people.

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Anon

When people “flood the streets “ and jaywalk after a ballgame do they attack drivers, bang on cars and try to gain entry to the vehicles?

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Your Neighbor

Anon, check your facts. Nobody banged on her car until she started running her car into folks and they did so ONLY in an attempt to prevent what ultimately happened. There is video evidence of that fact. It is 100% irrefutable.

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Check your facts

@Anon you are spreading a lie. You do not have the facts. There is footage of the driver driving her car into folks before anyone touched the hood of her car.

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Your Neighbor

Permits don’t protect people. Also, if you want you can make a go fund me for those people. Nobody is stopping you. We should always come together as a community to support each other, but also…I do hope you know the difference between a broken windshield and broken bone.

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Annoyed

That’s what I say to the Open Streets movement. Sop making people mad by blocking the streets. Streets are for movement, not stasis. You want to play cards and have a drink? Use the sidewalk.

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#dumpdeblasio

Illegal immigrants hurt the minority community by taking their jobs and undercutting small business owners

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Someone should really build a border wall, huh?

Trump’s “one-time payment” from Mexico was a lie, but you fell for it 😂

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Trump has a 400K body count

Hashtagger- Illegals help big corporations make and save billions. Just ask Donald Trump who was convicted by a US court of hiring a team of illegal alien laborers from Poland to demolish the old Bon Wit Teller Department Store and Construct Trump Tower. Obviously criminals do graduate to bigger crimes.

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You have a constitutional right to protest

The US Constitution gives people the right to peacefully protest whether me or you agree with them or not.The man was exercising his legal rights in a legal manner. You should be asking why his rights were violated by either a criminal or negligent act. If people didn’t protest women wouldn’t have the right vote or even own property.

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Make up your mind

Is your argument that someone should not be allowed to decide when they wish to keep their private business open or closed?

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ann

Because business owners are also concerned with social justice. A better question from you would have been: why did the motorist intentionally drive her car into a crowd in order to injure or kill people?

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He was marching in support of a group of immigrants who were being detained at the Bergen County Jail in New Jersey

It’s in the article. Business owners can do things other than running a business, weird huh?!

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Nobody Likes You

That’s what the majority of Americans are saying about the traitors at the Capitol. And the FBI is wondering that, too. Too bad they won’t get a Go Fund Me!

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Annab

Business owners aren’t allowed to practice free speech? Where in the Constitution does it say that?

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