HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - Hasbrouck Heights was the site of a Black Lives Matter march on Friday, June 5. A crowd upwards of 200 marched 1.5 miles from Hasbrouck Heights High School down the Boulevard around the circle and returned to the high school. The group paused and took a collective knee in memory of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

TAPinto caught up with some participants after the march, to get their insights and comments on the day.

Article continues after the video of the Black Lives Matters march crossing Franklin Avenue and the Boulevard. Video courtesy of Andrea Gaffney.

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Nyasia Fye,  Hasbrouck Heights High School, Class of 2018

“I think that Black Lives Matter is extremely important because we are getting killed for no reason, regardless of the fact of if we [black people] did a crime or not, there’s other measures to handle the situation. I really appreciate everyone for coming out, but like everybody says, it doesn’t stop here. Don’t just come out here and fake being a part of the protest. Actually do it and make a change in somebody’s life and yours.”

Ciilez Dacosta Wood-Ridge High School Class of 2019

“So today’s peaceful protest honestly went very well. It’s necessary that we come here in the first place. This is the message: it’s not that all lives don’t matter, it’s just all lives don't matter until black lives do. And, I feel like that’s the message that needs to continue to be pushed. Our people are literally being slaughtered every single day in the streets. Whether it’s on social media or whether it’s behind closed doors, like people are genuinely being beaten down. And those who are also peacefully protesting, they’re being tear gassed; they’re being shot with rubber bullets. Like this is something; this is a movement. This is something that starts with black lives and we need to continue to push the movement because now everyone is waking up. The whole entire world is seeing it. So I’m just very very thankful for all those that came out today. Just continue to push the movement. It’s not just showing up in person, it’s continuing to push the information and the message. That’s the main purpose of why we’re here in the first place.”

Anthony Palmer, Hasbrouck Heights High School, Class of 2019

"I expected people to come but not for the right reasons, for socializing or seeing their friends. I was surprised by the crowd, honestly, I was really shocked. I just want this town especially to know how important this really is. People are dying. This is a fight we’ve been fighting for 400-plus years. This is only the beginning of the battle."

Katheryn Figueroa, Hasbrouck Heights High School Class of 2018
“For my Latino community, let’s remember when everyone joined us for Justice for Junior. We should be standing with our black brothers and sisters to ensure that justice is served every day because racism does not sleep.”

Delilah Morales, Cuban and Hasbrouck Heights High School Class of 2018

“I just wanted to bring to light to the system in this town and this high school. Today NO policeman put their hands up in unity with us. And changing your opinion is always okay. That’s what we’re here to fight for. I know a lot of people in high school that came out today may have had other opinions before, but supporting the black lives movement does not mean anything against cops. It just means we want to fight for the system to be justified and corrected. That also starts in our learning centers and our schools. In our high school, we know that a lot of teachers aren’t vocal about their opinions, but there are some teachers that really make good impressions on students and allow us to learn and express ourselves as to what is going on in the world. That’s always important and Heights needs more people like that.”

Three generations of one family marched, Robert Call, 86, Mary Blanusa, his daughter, and Luka Blanusa, 13, his grandson.

Robert Call

It was nice to have the loan of a wheelchair and a daughter that could find someone to loan it to us, so I could participate in the full march instead of just watching and supporting from the sidelines.   It was very nice to be demonstrating in HH after doing the same in Alabama on the way from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, and in Columbus, Georgia, and spending time in jail in Georgia and in prison in New Jersey for demonstrating. It was nice to be able to have a peaceful protest in Hasbrouck Heights, where I was raised and have lived most of my life. 

"Keep at it, don't stop until you see the change you are asking for. Stay active right here in Hasbrouck Heights, go to town Council meetings and try to find out what are the rules, policies and training for our local police force and look at how those might be improved. Ask for real work to be done locally, by the mayor, council and school district to address racial justice in the institutions of our town. This was the first experience for my grandson. It was good to march together for something we believe in and to continue the family tradition with my grandson."

Mary Blanusa

"As soon as I saw the announcement I knew he would want to participate. Initially we talked about just bringing him up to the Boulevard to show support from a bench along the route. When I suggested I could try to find a wheelchair so that he could participate in the full march his eyes lit up"

"Seeing the ways in which COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color coupled with continued instances of white violence towards black men and women has really highlighted the systemic racism in our country.  I felt the need to come out in support of Black Lives Matter to say just that - BLACK lives matter and I need to do more  than just make my profile picture black in recognition, I need to support black lives through mobilization and action.  It was important for me to be there to hear the words of young people in our community, learn from them, kneel with them, and think about what I can do individually, in my family, and in the community to make changes so that people of color feel safe and welcomed."

"I grew up learning about my parents' experiences living and working in communities of color in the 60s and participating in protests through civil disobedience. They were less active as working parents in the 80s but became very active again in the 90s. It meant a lot to share this experience with my father who is now 86, in the town we both grew up in, addressing a pervasive issue that is often overlooked locally. Having my 13-year-old son there for his first demonstrations was great as well and helped foster a lot of discussion about the privilege we have and how we can look at our own words and actions to become more anti-racist.

Luka Blanusa

"I knew that he marched for civil rights in the past, so I wasn't surprised that he wanted to do it.  He is pretty old so it was great to help him march by pushing the wheelchair. I knew he protested a lot before so it was cool to have the chance to do it with him."

Jaedyn Schuller, Hasbrouck Heights High School, junior

“I think this is important because there are so many people in the Hasbrouck Heights district and town, who I can be walking down the street, and they’ll call me slurs, call me the N-word, tell me I shouldn’t be here. And the fact that people even came out in the first place and showed their support, whether they’re from our town or not, is a lot because it shows we are progressing towards better things. So I just think that in general, this was a good idea and I feel like we should keep doing stuff like this, regardless, that way it’s not just we feel accepted, it’s that everyone, especially in this town, should feel accepted. We’re Hasbrouck Heights. We’re a square mile. We all know each other. So why is this the reason that things are starting to change? There should be more of a reason.”

Odaliana Gomez, Hasbrouck Heights High School, sophomore

“Love transcends race and division! I marched for change, awareness and to be a person of color who is allowed to breathe without restrictions and biases.”

 

 

 

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