Protesters chanted “Black Lives Matter” in suburban Woodcliff Lake over the weekend. Located in Bergen County, it’s one of the highest household income towns in New Jersey.
“We realize that these towns have a lot of white privilege and they are quite silent on a lot of issues that matter. We decided that no more can these towns be allowed to be silent,” said student and protest organizer Olivia Bulzomi.
Bulzomi and other high school graduates and students organized the protest. They’re pushing for an end to police brutality and systemic racism, while also calling on cities to divert money from police budgets to social programs.
“Racist policies, just like racist people, are corrosive to peace and justice,” said Jenay Nurse-Guilford, an attorney.
“We cannot just simply march and rally for the black lives that have been lost, but we must play an active role in ensuring that the systematic oppression of black, indigenous and people of color is removed,” said student organizer Kareena Shah.
The demands have been echoed in suburban and urban demonstrations since the killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day in Minneapolis. Black Lives Matter banners are leading a reform and change movement that’s become mainstream.
Rev. Charles Boyer is the executive director of Salvation and Social Justice. He says he never anticipated Black Lives Matter rallying calls would become so mainstream, and this soon.
“We’re in a very incredible moment. Right now, there is not only a movement, but there is a moral reckoning taking place where folks who are on the side of right and good are aligning, no matter what community they’re from,” said Boyer.
He says he’s both encouraged and cautious.
“The part that I’m cautious about is any time something becomes so mainstream and corporatized, the really powerful, relevant and revolutionary call to it sometimes gets stripped away. And we’ve seen this with Dr. King. Dr. King, if folks really get pass the “I Have a Dream” speech, some of the things King was asking for are still not palatable to probably even a lot of the people screaming Black Lives Matter right now where he talked about things like universal basic income, where he really talked about breaking down barriers in very radical ways,” Boyer siad.
Boyer says he’s prayerful the Black Lives Matter mantra will lead to reparative justice and transformation beyond mere reforms.