TRENTON, NJ - Gov. Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy have scheduled coronavirus tests after they marched alongside protestors taking to the streets against police brutality Sunday in Hillside and Westfield. But some in New Jersey, including at least one Republican lawmaker, claim the governor should not be let off without a citation as he defied his own executive order on public gatherings in attending the Black Lives Matter events.
In a letter to the State Police Col. Pat Callahan, Assemblyman Jay Webber, alleges that in failing to adhere rules limiting outdoor gatherings to 25 - which led to at least two individuals being ticketed in Trenton in April - the governor should also be held at fault.
“Consistent with the treatment of other individuals who have committed similar acts, that behavior appears to merit a criminal citation for violations,” reads an excerpt from Webber’s letter.
In a photo posted on Twitter, Murphy could be seen standing beside his wife and fellow protestors in Westfield while holding a banner.
Murphy addressed the claims Monday during his daily press briefing in Trenton.
"This is a moment in time perhaps unlike any in our nation's history,” he said. “I can't imagine what it would look like if I told people we have to ignore systemic racism. I can't imagine what that would look like with public safety."
The Murphy’s marched in the “Hillside Strong March to End Racism, Police Brutality and Embrace Diversity” event and attended another in Westfield organized by Westfield High school junior Nala Scott.
The two marches were part of approximately 130 held by tens of thousands statewide over the weekend, sparked by the murder of 46-year-old George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day. Callahan said the protests all ended peacefully - with another 17 or so scheduled for Monday.
“This may be one of the most profound moments in the history of our country and I don’t say that lightly and it does feel different this time,” Murphy said. “Now, do I want everybody to cover their face and do everything they can to achieve social distancing?…yes. Do we need these protests to be peaceful? We do. And so far New Jersey has distinguished itself, as it has time and again, in particular over past several months.”
The Garden State’s caseload jumped 356 cases as of Monday (total of 164,497) and 40 deaths (12,214 total)
There were 94 new hospitalizations Sunday and 112 discharges. The number of people of ventilators was below 400 for the third consecutive day (361 reported).
“Please go out and get tested for COVID-19,” Murphy encouraged. “We cannot let what happened across NJ this weekend be undone by an outbreak.”