FLEMINGTON, NJ - Usually, on the Fourth of July, most families in town would be heading down the Shore, eating grilled hamburgers or getting ready for the traditional Flemington fireworks at the Reading-Fleming Middle School ballfield.
But not this year.
While most in Hunterdon County hunkered down to an at-home quieter than usual celebration, several Flemington police officers and county sheriff’s officers were ready for yet-another Black Lives Matter peaceful protest Saturday afternoon in front of the Historic Courthouse.
There were a total of seven officers at the ready, one of whom shared that, “The protest organizers have not come in for a permit, and we found out about the rally from social media.”
Flemington Police require a permit for a gathering in the borough for planning and safety sake but the right to assemble in the borough is guaranteed by the First Amendment.
In addition to the seven officers, the borough street department set out 3-foot high dividers separating Main Street from the area in front of the courthouse. The last largest gathering of 1,500 included a march from the Justice Center on Park Avenue to the Main Street Courthouse.
Two masked protesters stood their ground for about 30 minutes, holding home-made placards that read “Black Lives Matter/Don’t Tread on Me,” and “All Lives Can’t Matter Until Black Lives Matter.”
“We didn’t know that the rally was canceled,” shared one protester, who did not wish to be identified. She said she assumed that “it was canceled due to threats received on Facebook.”
She did not indicate what the threats said specifically.
Last week, protest organizer Hailey Rounsaville shared that she had received warnings in a letter to her home and on social media. Rounsaville did indicate that she reported the threats to the Flemington police.
The police officers said they were not upset to be called into town on the possibility that there would be another large rally.
“We’re here to serve the public, and keep the attendees safe no matter what the event,” one officer said.