HACKENSACK, N.J. — In the week following the death of George Floyd, the City of Hackensack will take it to the streets this week to rally against police brutality and demand justice.
On Memorial Day, Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who lived in a neighborhood outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, died of asphyxiation after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, crushed his neck with his bodyweight as he knelt down on him while he was lying on the pavement during an arrest. In a video captured by an onlooker, Floyd, who was being arrested for trying to pass off counterfeit money in a deli, cried for his life yelling “I can’t breathe!” And “Please, don’t kill me” while he was mercilessly being pinned down by the officer. He died nearly nine minutes later. Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Since his death, fiery protests sparked in major cities throughout the U.S. — a number of which resulted in civil unrest during which livid protesters were tear gassed by police and police cruisers were set ablaze. In others, police officers stood with the protesters.
Locally, two peaceful protests are planned this week in Hackensack. One will be held on Thursday, June 4 at 5:30 p.m. organized by the Hackensack Alumni. Demonstrators will congregate on the Courthouse steps. Participants are being asked to abide by social distancing practices, don masks, and carry hand sanitizer.
"This rally is organized to allow members of our community to express their condemnation for the racial injustice and violence that occurs throughout our country," said organizer Alysia Colon. "Black people of our community, especially students, want to take action and to have their voices heard. This is an issue that affects all of us, and this rally allows us to come together to show support for one another during a time where emotions like frustration and hurt are abundant, and have our demands for justice heard."
A second protest will be held on Saturday, June 6 at 12 p.m. in the Sears parking lot at Main and Anderson Streets. Leading this protest will be Mark Edwards with the Citizens for Equal Justice. The march will take place at 1 p.m. where protesters will carry signs and walk to the Courthouse and back.
“This is a peaceful protest,” said Deputy Mayor David Sims. “It’s well needed. I’m glad, as an elected official, to be asked to participate."
When asked his thoughts about the tragedy, Sims said he was in shock.
“I was in disbelief. I was like, 'oh no, not again,' he said. "To hear him yelling, 'I can’t breathe,' and ask for his mom, it just sent wounds all through my body. I take care of my 82-year-old mother, and for me to die yelling her name... devastating.”
This past Saturday, a dozen demonstrators held a peaceful protest at Court Plaza in Hackensack, shouting George Floyd’s name and chanting, “No Justice, No Peace” and “I Can’t Breathe!” among other rally cries as they held signs and marched through the heart of town. A protester said the group “hopes and prays for good.”