NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Vast numbers of protesters came in peace to events against police brutality held across the Garden State on the weekend of May 30-31.
Throughout New Jersey, thousands of residents, activists, students, and others effectively shut down streets and marched in memory of George Floyd, a Minnesota man whose death at the hands of police on May 25.
Floyd, who was murdered by the Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas K. Lane, was suspected of using a fake $20 bill in a deli.
Floyd, a father and family man, died with Officer Chauvin’s knee to his neck after repeatedly stating, “I can’t breathe” — a horrific event that will live on forever as it was captured on multiple police body cameras and multiple cameras of witnesses.
Bystanders were stopped from interfering by the other three officers.
In Newark, about 2,000 people marched downtown with the People’s Organization for Progress (POP) and stopped to kneel in front of City Hall then marching to the Essex County Courthouse. Protests broke off and continued without disruption throughout the night.
Community activist and U.S. Senate candidate Lawrence Hamm gave a powerful speech in front of the historic Essex County Courthouse before promptly turning the microphone over to several youth activists, including a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha (Morgan State University), New Jersey Black Lives Matter (NJ BLM), and other organizations.
The city’s mayor, Ras Baraka, also spoke in front of the Essex County Courthouse before the very large crowd in the streets. Mayor Baraka has oversaw a number of changes in the city in recent years, including the creation of a civilian complaint review board (CCRB).
Among the number of demands by POP and NJ BLM were to facilitate dialogues with police officers and for residents across New Jersey to start making demands in their respective city halls.
The City of Newark, along with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) successfully fought to preserve the authority of Newark’s civilian CCRB which was established after US Department of Justice findings of police brutality and gross misconduct in 2014.
The current CCRB is one of many models of police conduct review boards and holds limited powers.
But in 2019, the Appellate Division of New Jersey upheld its authority to issue subpoenas.
Morristown, New Brunswick, Camden and Trenton also saw their own peaceful protests Saturday which included marching, shutting down streets, speeches and candle light vigils.
In recent years, individuals who died by police shooting in New Jersey include: Barry Deloatch (New Brunswick, 2011), Diahlo Grant (New Brunswick, 2016), and Jeraime Reid (Bridgeton, 2017).
In New Brunswick, about two hundred individuals marched from Feaster Park to the New Brunswick Police Department shutting down Albany Street, Joyce Kilmer Avenue and George Street.
Protestors, led by activist Tormel Pittman, then visited Handy and Throop Streets, the site of the police murder of Barry Deloatch.
There are still dozens of media reports of police misconduct in the state of New Jersey.
On Sunday night, police shut down the streets of Trenton after some commercial property damage, theft and police vehicles were set on fire.
The story develops as the protests and reaction of those hurt by the turmoil our nation finds itself in continues, with more protests scheduled on June 2, including one already underway at New Brunswick Middle School, and another at 1714 Woodbridge Avenue in Highland Park at 6:30pm.
Actions will be taking place all month in all parts of New Jersey and information on them can be found online including on popular social media outlets.
The following demonstrations are happening in other municipalities:
- at 4 p.m., Tuesday, June 2, at the GrandMarket Place on Route 130 in Willingboro;
- from 5:05 to 6 p.m. start time on Tuesday, June 2 at La Playa on Beachway Avenue in Keansburg;
- an 8 minute moment of silence at 6 p.m., Tuesday June 2, in Jersey City at Newark Avenue Pedestrian Mall;
- a Rally for Justice is planned for 1 p.m., Thursday, June 4;
- in Old Bridge at Lombardi Field, 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 6 in front of Trenton City Hall at 319 East State Street, Trenton, NJ 08608; and
- on Saturday, June 6 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. in front of Jersey City’s City Hall at 280 Grove Street, the New Jersey Black Caucus for Social Justice is holding a rally to demand justice for George Floyd.
Molly O'Brien started writing for New Brunswick Today as a freelance reporter in February 2013.
Molly writes stories on government, arts, free events, bilingual events, education and more.
Molly graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in French Linguistics and Linguistics, where she also studied Writing and Journalism. Molly also graduated Rutgers Law School.
She is open to any suggestions for stories or tips. You may contact her via text at 732-743-8993.