HILLSBOROUGH, NJ – The sounds of peaceful protest filled the air around the intersection of Amwell Road and Route 206 last Saturday as residents and activists raised their voices in solidarity with racial and social justice movements around the globe.
Passing drivers honked their horns and shouted out from their vehicles, joining in the protest.
The protestors were careful to maintain COVID-19 safety protocols, and reflected the ethnic, racial, and identity diversity of the township. The crowd included teachers, police officers, business owners, students, young and old, parents and children, unified as one voice calling for the eradication of violence, bias, and inequality inherent to the nation’s socio-political, economic, and criminal justice systems.
Home-made signs included quotes from Martin Luther King Jr and Malcom X, and declared proudly that black lives matter.
The most striking moment of the demonstration came not as a result of sound, but the absence of it, as the collective kneeled in silence for eight minutes and forty-six seconds in solemn recognition of the time it took for George Floyd to be strangled while handcuffed under the knee of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25.
“That was the longest 8 minutes and 46 seconds of my life,” posted protestor Nicole Risher. “My knee started to buckle and I (just like many others) had to switch knees. I began to cry.”
The event was organized by local activists from the grass roots volunteer group, Our Revolution-Hillsborough (ORH), and was also attended by Township Committeewoman Olivia Holmes and NJ Assemblyman Roy Freiman (D-16).
“Today was a new day for Hillsborough,” said ORH president, Didier Jimenez. “Real change always happens from the bottom up and our community is ready to fight for it.”
“I was struck by the number of people participating, enough to fill all four corners of Amwell Road, 206 and more," Holmes said. “The cars driving by were honking and waving in support. I felt a sense of community, hope and change in the air.”
Freiman added, “Protests and words alone cannot be the cure. It must be our actions. Let’s make sure George Floyd’s daughter was right when she said, “My daddy changed the world.”
Jimenez thanked the Hillsborough Police Department who worked with ORH to secure the location.
"To all who participated and helped clean the area, we thank you, and we’ll see you again soon,” Jiminez said.
Our Revolution-Hillsborough is a local chapter of Our Revolution, a grass roots political action organization that aims to educate voters about issues and get people involved in the political process. It has chapters across the state, the nation, and overseas. For more information about ORH, email OurRevolutionBoro@mail.com. View the website at www.ourrevolution.com.