SOMERVILLE, NJ - Local supporters of Black Lives Matters have organized a demonstration and Main Street protest march for Sunday, July 12 beginning with a rally at the Historic Somerset County Courthouse on East Main Street at 3 p.m.
This will be the 10th event in support of Black Lives Matters at the courthouse since June 5th. There were no organized protests during the July 4th holiday weekend but there were a few protestors holding "Black Lives Matter" signs at the corner of North Bridge Street and East Main Street on Saturday and Sunday. There have been as many as three protests in one weekend beginning last month.
The flyer promoting the July 12 event circulating on social media includes a photograph of BLM protestors marching past Somerville Borough Hall on West End Avenue during a protest last month as they headed back to the courthouse to continue their demonstration.
BLM organizers say the plan again is to march down Main Street to Borough Hall, turn around, and return to the courthouse where several speakers will be featured.
The flyer lists the names of the four speakers; BLM provided the following biographical information and links:
Mason Robinson - https://www.shocktheworldpro.com/mason.html
Robinson is CEO and head coach at Shock the World. He grew up in Somerville and attended Rutgers University where he was elected captain of the football team, helping to lead the Scarlet Knights to their first Big East conference championship. He is also the head track coach of his alma mater, Somerville High School and serves as an assistant football coach at Montgomery High School.
Art Morrison III - https://morrisonenterprisellc.com/
Morrison III is an entrepreneur, owning several businesses. He is an author of the book “Overcome” and a professional basketball player giving back to the community through a youth basketball training program, “AboveMAX Basketball”. He also provides small business solutions to corporations with fewer than 20 employees through Morrison Enterprise, LLC. He is highly driven by the adversity he faced throughout his life and has used his story to inspire countless others. He is passionate about the community and seeks to help others delve into the world of entrepreneurship and business.
Dr. Karen Gaffney - is an English professor at Raritan Valley Community College. She is the author of "Dismantling the Racism Machine: A Manual and Toolbox" as well as the creator of the website DividedNoLonger.com which includes her blog and resources on race and racism.
Lesley Anne Seale, is described as a mother, activist and survivor who has overcome physical challenges and emotional abuse. She became bedridden in 2013 after starting treatment for an unknown autoimmune disease and a gastric bypass which led to an emergent gastric bleed. That that resulted in emergency open surgery which left her unable to eat solid food. She couldn’t remember how to hold a pen and couldn’t change the sound or tone of her voice. Her love for her children pushed her to fight past the pain and suffering. She ended the tumultuous relationship with her children’s father to create a better life. By 2019, she obtained her real estate license and began to create a new normal of peace and stability for her children.
The death of George Floyd prompted her to begin to speak for the rights of herself and others. She has become an activist for the Black Lives Matter movement and has dedicated her life to fighting for justice and equality.
Sunday's demonstration will continue the call for social justice and police reform that began following the death of Floyd, a black Minneapolis man who was taken into police custody May 25 on suspicion of passing counterfeit money. He was handcuffed and detained by police on the ground beside a police vehicle outside a convenience store while a white police officer kneeled on his neck. A bystander recorded the incident on an IPhone.
Floyd begged "I Can't Breathe" through the ordeal and eventually fell silent. He was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Two autopsies determined he had suffocated. Four police officers were fired the next day. One faces Second degree murder charges, the other three face aiding and abetting charges.
The incident is what has led to the demonstrations in Somerville and nationwide, where millions of protestors have demanded social justice and police oversight and legislation to address other grievances. Riots and looting have also plagued the nation's cities as an outgrowth of Floyd's death.
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