HACKENSACK, N.J. — Droves of protesters braved 90-degree heat this afternoon to continue to "stoke the flames of revolution" when they flocked to a municipal parking lot on State Street in Hackensack for a peaceful protest organized by the Citizens of Equality, Peace, and Justice led by Mark Edwards. The day’s demonstration marked the city’s second organized rally this week after Thursday’s on-site rally at the Court House organized by the Hackensack High School Alumni which saw hundreds of peaceful protesters.
The rally was held not only to demand justice for George Floyd — a 46-year-old black man who died by asphyxiation on Memorial Day after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer of the Minneapolis Police Department, knelt down on his neck for nearly 9 minutes during his arrest until he died while three other since-fired officers aided in the arrest and stood by — but to condemn racism and police brutality, and continue to advocate for the countless lives lost to it, which included Breonna Taylor, Travyon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, and Hackensack’s own Elvin Diaz among many others. Diaz’s mother, Cecilia, attended the protest carrying a large poster of a blow-up photo of her late son reading, “You are Always With Us.”
“We don’t want it in our police department, we don’t want it our judicial system, we don’t want it in our government,” said Edwards to the cheering protesters who were carrying signs that read “Black Lives Matter,” “Silence is Violence,” “Uplift Me, Not Kill Me,” “Black Genocide: 1619-2020” “All Lives Matter, Yet Black Lives Battered” as the sun beat down on the crowd.
“If you are a racist, you need to get out of our police department. We don’t want you there.”
Hackensack’s Subiya Mboya, 19, a student at the Manhattan School of Music who helped lead Thursday night’s protest, returned Saturday afternoon, continuing to spread her same messages she voiced less than 48 hours earlier.
“I pray for peace, but I feel enormous rage. "Officers, you must call out your fellow officers for brutality. If you are silent, you are complacent,” she said, angrily into the mic. “All who sustain hatred are morally inferior. We must also scream justice for our black women. Yesterday was Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday. Breonna Taylor was an unarmed black woman who was shot fatally eight times by Louisville Police who entered her home unlawfully. Across the world, people pay respects to Breonna’s life, which was stolen from her. Breonna’s case is not secular. It could happen to any of us!”
She continued, “We still need justice for the countless other black women whose names do not go viral, whose stories remain absent from mainstream media cycles. We must continue to stoke the flames of revolution until justice is served! I expect all of you, under the sound of my voice, to stand with us against hatred, against racism, against misogyny, against homophobia, against bigotry, against stigma, and love for your community.”
Before the sea of protesters spilled into the streets around 1 p.m., they chanted the names of those lost to police brutality and other rally cries from “Black Lives Matter” to “No Justice, No Peace.” As they headed for the Court House, one man held up a cardboard box that covered the entire length of his body reading a simple plea: “If You’re Scared Of/Fear For Your Life When You See Innocent, Unarmed Black Men, Be Careful, They’re Everywhere. You Don’t Have to Kill Them.”
Another protest is planned at Paramus High School on Tuesday, June 9 at 4 p.m.