HACKENSACK, N.J. -- The Hackensack City Council is releasing the following joint statement on the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis and the unrest that this tragedy has caused throughout the country. Mayor John Labrosse, Deputy Mayor Kathleen Canestrino, Deputy Mayor David Sims, Councilman Leo Battaglia and Councilwoman Stephanie Von Rudenborg said jointly: 

"The City of Hackensack prides itself on its diversity, and we want the residents of our community to hear directly from the City Council about the tragic events that have unfolded in the last week after the death of George Floyd. The murder of Mr. Floyd was an unconscionable act that should never have happened, and we believe that the officers involved in the confrontation must be held accountable for their actions and that justice must be served. 

The right to peaceful assembly and protest is enshrined in the Constitution and it's one of the bedrock principles of our democracy. African-Americans and people of all races who feel the pain of George Floyd's death and the legacy of racism in our country must be allowed to make their voices heard, and we look forward to participating in a peaceful march this weekend alongside residents and activists demanding change. We stand with you in that struggle. 

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At the same time, we cannot condone the destruction that has taken place across many American cities. Just as the police must be held accountable, anyone engaging in these unlawful activities must be held accountable as well. Thankfully, demonstrations in Bergen County and much of New Jersey have so far been peaceful, and we hope that will continue. 

The City of Hackensack has never hesitated to hold our police officers accountable when they step over the line. But we must recognize that the vast majority of our officers are true public servants who are committed to protecting people and preventing crime, and we thank these dedicated officers for putting themselves at risk every day to keep our city safe. 

We all must do what we can to confront the systemic challenges in our society and forge a better path forward. We owe it to ourselves, our children and future generations to get this right. We hope that out of tragedy, hope will emerge and we will come out of this event stronger and more together." 

Deputy Mayor Sims, who is currently the city’s highest ranking African American elected official, released the following statement: 

"George Floyd's murder is a tragedy, but I can't say it's a surprise. As a black man living in this country, I have experienced racism first hand too many times to count, as I know most members of my community have as well. I understand the anger that people are feeling because as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said himself, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We need change in our country, change in our communities, change in our mindset and change in our streets, and without that we can't truly move forward. I thank my fellow City Council members for recognizing the importance of peaceful protest and look forward to marching on Saturday for the change we so desperately need." 

Members of the City Council plan to join local residents in a protest march planned for Saturday at 12 p.m. at the Sears parking lot, corner of Main Street and Anderson Street. Anyone participating in the protest is asked to wear a mask to reduce the spread of COVID-19.