HAWTHORNE, NJ - Gabriel Brevet was thrilled to hear that Hawthorne was holding a march in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. The 17-year-old junior at Hawthorne High School had never attended a rally before, but he was ready. 

“I absolutely love any sort of activism,” Gabriel said. “From a very young age, I was encouraged to research on my own and figure out my beliefs. Because of that, I developed a very strong political voice very young. I had all this political energy building up, and I wanted to do something.”

Youth activism is on the rise around the world, but it was on display Sunday when Hawthorne held a rally and march with Black Lives Matter Paterson. Protesters gathered at Hawthorne Memorial Pool and marched up Lafayette Avenue to the Hawthorne Municipal Building.

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Like Gabriel, many youths, said it was his first experience but had high expectations for the outcomes.

“This is my first time ever doing something like this,” said Aliysha Malone, a 17-year old senior at Hawthorne High School. “I’m doing it because I want awareness. I want police reform, definitely. I also want to defund the police and make sure they have more training.”

“I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do anything,” said Emily Armstrong, a 16-year old junior at Hawthorne High School. “I’m hoping this encourages people to get out and vote — do something I can’t. I want people over 18 here who haven’t voted in the past to get out and vote.”

One of the organizers, Kevin Bergen, a 21-year old theatre student at Sarah Lawrence College, saw the march as the start of a larger movement. “My goal today was to make sure my community showed up, and show my town what the communities around us, including Paterson, looked like,” said Bergen. “Next, we want to turn this into concrete action.”

Based on his initial goal, Kevin and the organizers should be able to count the day as a success. At the height of the protest, most of the block in front of the Municipal building was filled with protesters of all ages.

“I think it is amazing that my age group is here,” says Danielle Fiorilla, a 17-year old junior at Hawthorne High School. “Gen Z, we are one of the more accepting groups, obviously, so we’re going to participate.  Having different races, ethnicities, backgrounds, and ages come together is the most beautiful thing that I’ve seen today.”


Lyn Morton is an independent marketing consultant who provides marketing & client relations for TAPinto Hawthorne & TAPinto Fair Lawn/Glen Rock. Learn more about Lyn and how he can help your business advertise with TAPinto at lynmorton.com/njmarketing.

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