SOCIAL ISSUES

NJ’s first couple join weekend protests over Floyd killing

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

Gov. Phil Murphy and first lady Tammy Murphy were among the thousands of weekend protesters in New Jersey. They attended one event Sunday in Hillside, and took a knee in Westfield where a high school junior wrote and invited the governor to attend to make people feel heard about the treatment of black people.

“We’re still digging out from that awful stain of racism,” Murphy said in Westfield.

Nutley Mayor Mauro Tucci got a quick reality check of the mood of demonstrators as he tried to dance around the “M” word describing the video of Floyd’s killing.

“The video is upsetting, disappointing and infuriating. It does not show the police standards we know,” Tucci said.

Minutes later, he acquiesced and said “murder.” Others demanded change, accountability and an end to police brutality.

There was a diverse turnout so big in Montclair that organizers had to split the demonstration into two groups. In one, African American high school students did some sharing about systemic racism.

“I find it dehumanizing that every time a black person dies, we spend time humanizing them to the public to prove that their lives matter,” one student said.

Another student added, “I feel like the culture that our school is so white that it makes black people hate black people.”

“I have been told on multiple occasions that I was pretty for a black girl. Putting down a whole race to flatter me is not a compliment,” one of the students said.

In Jersey City, thousands marched and heard speakers demand a better America.

“Dear white people, our silence is violence. It’s simply not enough for us to be against racism. We have to be actively anti-racist,” one protester said.

“We fought for a country that would not fight for us. Seventy-six years later we face the same systemic oppression our forefathers faced. I don’t know about you, but my patience is running thin,” one protester said to a crowd.

But, will the loud chorus of demands picking up steam across the county be heard in New Jersey?

“What we need is to defund the police. What we need is to take it all down and start again,” one protester said.

“I don’t agree with that,” said Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton. “I mean, like everything else, you have one bad apple. And in this case it’s addressing that apple and dealing with it so we don’t have this continuously.”

Cureton was among those at a protest in Hackensack where one speaker told police exactly how she feels.

“The badge that you honor gives many of you a false sense of removal from our humanity,” said protester Subiya Mboya. “But still, you are not my enemy. I refuse to see you as my enemy. I refuse to hate you.”

The protests in New Jersey echo the national ones and their demands for justice for George Floyd and reforming policing. They too have grown bigger and louder with hopes of reaching those who can turn demands into deeds.