CLARK, NJ – Scores of protestors marched throughout the township on Saturday, calling for political change in the Garden State and turning rhetoric into action, drawing on a national conversation of race in America on the nation’s birthday.
Clustered by the Municipal Building, scores of protestors came not only to chant and march, but to sign petitions and make calls. Sitting under the shade, protestors clad in masks flooded the voicemails of the Attorney General's office and State Police Superintendent on behalf of Maurice Gordon, an unarmed black man who was killed by a State Trooper in May, as well as the Kentucky Attorney General to demand police who killed Breonna Taylor be arrested.
“It's called a march for action because we're doing things,” said Amari Hyatt, an event organizer. “We’re not just marching.”
Protestors also wanted to make another point clear – they vote.
Organizers instructed the crowd to research and call their state senators en masse, urging them to approve legislation which would make police reports intended to intimidate people on the basis of race a crime. A voter registration table was set up and one person announced their intent to run for their local city council.
“We have to do more than just call and talk to our representatives," said Hanif Denny, a Rahway resident who said he would run as an independent for Rahway City Council. "We have to become our representatives."
Many of the protestors, a diverse group skewing mostly young, came from neighboring communities. Clark, they said, was emblematic of racial inequities they wanted to address.
“My family, my friends, we were admonished not to come here,” said Hyatt, who is Black. “Not to drive through here or to walk here. Because we'll be stopped [by police].”
The date too was a point of symbolism, with many voicing disdain for the holiday celebrating the founding of America as a failed promise.
“It wasn't Independence Day for all of us,” Hyatt said. “It was Independence Day for some. Why would I celebrate that?”
Protestors were mum on Mayor Sal Bonaccorso, who drew the ire of the surrounding communities last month when he said he is pro ‘good black people.’ City officials did not make an appearance, and police presence was minimal. “I wasn’t paying him any mind,” Hyatt said. “[This] is moreso about the Clark area.”
The march started from Esposito Park with protestors marching down sidewalks – police did not close the streets – chanting choruses of the Black Lives Matter movement as cars honked by in support.
The movement, which has persisted for over a month throughout the Garden State, nation and world, would not end anytime soon, some protestors said.
“There's going to be a lot of trying times for us to come,” said Raheem Perkins, a Rahway resident. “We're gonna encounter all of [it], but together we're doing everything. We're going to change the world.”
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