HOBOKEN - The revolution will not be televised... but maybe we can do it on Facebook Live?
That's what Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla is pitching, as he offers a lukewarm denunciation of a forthcoming Police Brutality protest scheduled for Maxwell Park this Friday.
"How do you organize an inclusive outdoor protest with 25 people, six feet apart? It’s a great question," said Bhalla via social media Monday night, "and regrettably I do not think it is possible in the context of the necessary public health restrictions created by this pandemic."
The protest, being held by the somewhat enigmatic "Allies 4 Justice," has been scheduled for Friday, June 5 from 1-4 p.m. at the waterfront park. There are currently no further details, although Bhalla claims to have, "discussed many logistical issues," with the organizers.
"I expressed my solidarity with the movement for racial justice, and we discussed our joint desire for this to be a peaceful and non-violent protest," said Bhalla, in the wake of the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis, as well as a number of other use-of-force incidents nationwide. "However, I am also concerned this event cannot be socially distant, as we have seen in other parts of the country, and may expose attendees to a risk of danger from individuals who may attend for reasons that are improper – despite the best intentions of the organizers of this protest. For this reason, I cannot offer you advice as to whether or not to attend this gathering, except to make an educated decision and express your free speech rights “eyes wide open” about the pandemic we are facing and safer alternatives."
Bhalla's suggested safer alternative consists of a Hoboken Virtual Interfaith Clergy Vigil will be held on Thursday, June 4th, at 5 pm, and will be broadcast live at Hoboken Clergy Coalition.
"I have been in touch with our Interfaith Clergy, who will be hosting a 'Hoboken Virtual Interfaith Clergy Vigil," said the Mayor, "where Hoboken residents will be able to participate live and online, in a virtual rally in a manner that is safe and does not compound the dangers of the pandemic we are all trying to contain."
Among the first cities to institute quarantine measures, Hoboken has had 561 confirmed cases and 29 COVID-19 related fatalities.
Bhalla's suggested solution came just hours after a peaceful, yet crowded protest took place in neighboring Jersey City, with Jersey City officials—including Mayor Steven Fulop and Public Safety Director James Shea—in attendance.
"While I wish we can join together in unity, holding hands, marching, protesting, and advocating in the way we normally do as patriotic Americans, these are not normal times," said Bhalla."The ground has shifted beneath us in major ways, twice this year, and we must adapt to these changes. I hope residents recognize this reality and express their free speech right in a manner that does not risk their public health or physical safety."
We will continue to monitor developments in area protests.
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