DENVILLE, NJ -- The Denville Voices Against Racial Injustice held a demonstration in Downtown Denville at McCarter Park on Bloomfield Avenue, Mon., June 8, in recognition of the death of George Floyd. Denville Voices Against Racial Injustice is a group of diverse individuals who strive to bring awareness and act for equity and equality for Denville residents.
George Floyd was an 46-year-old African-American man who, on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, died while white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Floyd had originally been restrained by the police on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill. Since his death, there have been demonstrations and protests against police brutality and racism across the nation in more than 80 cities, and around the world; some resulting in violent riots and looting.
There was no such violence or mayhem in Denville on Monday. More than 600 people peacefully gathered, wearing face masks and gloves due to the COVID-19 pandemic, carrying protest signs. Some signs read “No Justice No Peace,” “Silence is Violence,” and “I Can’t Breathe,” latter statement is what Floyd said repeatedly as he begged for his life.
“I think it’s a critical time for this, and when we first came together, we knew we wanted to uplift the voices of our black neighbors in Denville and help to create a more just community,” said Denville resident Dominique Tornabe, who is a Denville Voices volunteer.
The march began on Bloomfield Avenue, then onto Broadway before turning right onto Diamond Spring Road, and right onto First Avenue. The march then returned to Broadway, proceeding to the Tulip Foundation at the intersection of Broadway and Bloomfield Avenue. During the march, people chanted cries such as “Black Lives Matter,” “What’s his Name: George Floyd,” and the names of other African Americans who were the victims of police brutality, such as Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Breonna Taylor.
“Part of me is disheartened that we had to have this in the first place,” said Denville resident Abdul Staten, co-lead of Denville Voices, who acted as the rally’s master of ceremonies.
“And a part of me is disheartened because of some people’s reactions to this. But a lot of me is hopeful because of the support we received and the volunteers who are here.”
The march finally proceeded back onto Bloomfield Avenue before ending at the Upper Bloomfield Avenue parking lot, where the rally took place. Local township students and residents took turns expressing their outrage of the racial injustice they have seen in their nation and encouraging all people present, black and white, to make a stand against hatred. One special guest speaker was the Reverend Dr. Carol Lynn Patterson, the associate regional pastor of the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey.
“We are here today because a group of concerned citizens got together, and we’re here because you care,” said Dr. Patterson.
“Denville Voices Against Racial Injustice was birthed because this community is committed to coming together to turn the tide. And that is good news. There’s a figurative storm raging all around us. It’s raging around the globe. People are protesting racism in London, Berlin, in Rome and in Auckland, New Zealand. As the world deals with the devastating effects of one inexplicable virus, color crisis has also come to the forefront. What used to be private white supremacy in America, before January 20, 2017, is now center stage, producing a growing list of enemies at home and abroad.”
Prior to the rally and speeches, Dr. Patterson asked all in attendance to take a moment of silence, while taking a knee, for exactly eight minutes and 46 seconds. Some attendants raised their clenched fists and signs of protests in the air as they did so.
“We’re coming together to demand change because everybody of good conscience has had enough of the blustery cold front blowing in hatred and division along ethnic lines, social economic lines, gender lines and lot of other isms.”
The Reverend Dr. Carol Lynn Patterson also serves as the transitional pastor of the Federated Church (the union of Livingston Baptist Church and Olivet Congregational Church), based in Livingston. She was also a member of the pastoral team at Calvary Baptist Church, in Morristown, and the first woman to be ordained at Calvary, where she led ministry development and directed the national How Shall They Hear preaching conference.
For more information on Denville Voices Against Racial Injustice, visit their Facebook page at https://m.facebook.com/DenvilleVoices/.
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