HUNTERDON COUNTY, NJ - Hunterdon County officials joined the masses of local governments, major companies and organizations, and leading figures in the United States, to offer statements and take to the airwaves to speak about race relations in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hand of Minneapolis police on Memorial Day and protests that have ensued.
With an address by freeholder director Shaun C. Van Doren on Tuesday, the county government took part in the national discourse as parts of New Jersey and all of New York City have been put under curfews to discourage violence and looting.
“I believe the events in Minneapolis last week and the resulting civil unrest that has occurred around the nation are of such magnitude they require recognition and comment,” he said. “I believe I speak for all my colleagues on the board when I say George Floyd’s death is both a tragedy and a travesty. None of us can surely appreciate or understand the degree of sorrow and loss of affecting his family and friends, and they have our greatest sympathy. Many across the country have taken to the streets in protests and in calling for social justice, which is the right of every American. But those that used the cover of protests to loot, burn and threaten harm to others should face the criminal justice system for their unlawful actions, much like the officers who caused Mr. Floyd’s death. They badly damage the image and rights of those who wish to make their point through purposeful but peaceful protest.”
He briefly spoke about a peaceful protest in Flemington, the Hunterdon County seat May 31. Van Doren said that, by all accounts, the Flemington demonstration was well-attended and peaceful.
“Those who organized and attended the event deserve recognition for ensuring it was done right, being meaningful as well as respectful of everyone’s rights,” he said. “I wish to extend to the offices of county Sheriff Fred Brown and Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office (Michael J. Williams) as well as to the Flemington Police Department for ensuring the safety and security of all in attendance Sunday without being intrusive.”
“We could only wish that others around the nation could follow Hunterdon County’s example,” he added.
Freeholder J. Matthew Holt agreed and said that, across the country, protests following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota have “too often been violent,” but some demonstrations included substantive points that recurred from those protests and (Floyd’s) death.
“As Freeholder Director Van Doren noted, he has my full support in his comments,” Holt said. “While what occurred will be adjudicated in a court of law, the tragedy certainly deserves the attention of the nation, and I agree, the nation would do well to learn both from the example set by the people of our county who have conducted themselves under their Constitutional rights to protest and to bring attention to the issues of social injustice. I would add that the same type of example was set by our Hunterdon County law enforcement community who dutifully serve and do protect and respect all of the people.”