SOMERVILLE, NJ - "Say Their Names," conceived as a "family friendly" demonstration and march around town by a mom for moms and others will begin at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 14 at the Historic Somerset County Courthouse.
It will be the sixth protest for social justice in the past two weeks centered on the lawn of the courthouse on East Main Street.
There will be a 4 p.m. protest/march on Saturday, June 13.
"Say Their Names" organizer Cheyenne Garstad, who participated in some of last weekend's events, has spent time the past two weeks researching incidents that have involved the deaths of blacks while being arrested or in police custody.
George Floyd, a black man who was handcuffed and in police custody died in Minneapolis May 25 while a white police officer kneeled on his neck, is the most recent, sparking a non-stop wave of protests across the country.
Garstad, 29, who is married with a young child, said her latest count is 179, and she expects that number will increase as her research continues.
Each of those victims will be memorialized as part of Sunday's demonstration.
"Say Their Names" will supply the chalk, and protestors will be asked to create individual memorial boxes on the sidewalks surrounding the courthouse and administration complex, which is bounded by East Main Street, North Bridge Street, Grove Street and East High Street.
Following her remarks and those of other speakers, the protestors will march a short distance down East Main Street and head south on South Bridge Street, before linking up with the Division Street pedestrian mall. The mall empties on to West Main Street, with the marchers heading west for several blocks towards West End Avenue before turning on to Mountain Avenue for a short distance, before making a turn on to West High Street to head back to the courthouse complex.
Garstad said the total distance to be covered is 2.7 miles, and she expects many of the moms to be pushing strollers.
"Our intention is to make this family-friendly for the moms; we're asking everyone to take precautions, wear masks, use sanitizers, keeping it peaceful to let them know this is a safe environment," Garstad said.
Those marching will also be handed flyers with a "Call to Action" to distribute to those watching the protest. Highlights include:
1. Protest - the flyer notes that protests helped lead to the arrests of 4 Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd's arrest;
2. Donate - several social justice organizations are mentioned;
3. Use Your Voice - all people are encouraged to demand social justice;
4. Be Uncomfortable - :"Understand that we all have work to do and change will not happen unless we are all willing to acknowledge and challenge our own biases;"
5. Educate Yourselves - Be actively anti-racist.
Garstad said it was important that the protest went beyond the courthouse lawn.
"We wanted to make sure as much of the town was included, to hear our message and not just for the people who want to show up and be involved at the courthouse," she said.
Garstad, who moved to Somerville less than a year ago, said the community has been supportive of her efforts.
"it's been overwhelmingly positive to be honest," she said. "It feels really good, a lot of the town council has been supportive. We've reached out to churches that we'll be passing on the route, and we've gotten positive responses about posting signs.
"We've gotten donations of water and snacks, money for hand sanitizer, it's just been amazing."
Once the march through the streets of the borough is completed, the demonstration will continue at the courthouse until 2 p.m., Garstad said.
Here is a link to event information on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1112698169105882