This morning at 8 am, the blue line down the center of Flemington’s Main Street was painted over, largely in response to growing support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and concerns over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the end of May. Mayor Betsy Driver noted that she had received “dozens of texts, emails, and phone calls" asking her to consider having the blue line removed.
Back in October of 2016, when Flemington Borough had the double yellow traffic lines down the middle of Main Street repainted, then-Mayor Phil Greiner and then-Council President Brian Swingle decided to add a blue line in the center as a tribute to the town’s police officers. But, even back then the matter was not without controversy.
Flemington DIY, the Borough Creative space located in the center of town at 90 Main Street, placed a “Black Lives Matter” sign in their window in response. That action culminated in the demand by the Mayor and Borough Council that the sign be removed, with community support becoming vocal on both sides of what evolved into a controversial issue. In fact, DIY hosted a well-attended community forum on the matter (“Conversation on the Blue Line”), with panelists from the Hunterdon Anti-Racism Coalition, the Black Lives Matter organization at Rutgers and the Flemington Borough Council.
Much has changed in the community since then. Last Saturday, almost 100 people gathered in the Borough Park on Park Avenue to express their concerns over what they viewed as violence against African-Americans by rogue police officers. On Thursday, between three and four hundred people marched on the streets of Clinton expressing the same outrage. And the “Black Lives Matter” sign is back up in the window of Flemington DIY.
“I’ve been wanting to get rid of the blue line for a while now, as it had become very divisive in the community. So, we made the decision to have it painted over,” added Mayor Driver.