HOBOKEN - A rally has been planned for Hoboken’s Maxwell Place Park this Friday, to protest the recent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other instances of violence and injustice nationwide.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” reads a post by an organization calling itself Allies 4 Justice. “The unjust death of George Floyd and the perpetual violence against Black people is simply too great to ignore. Action must be taken,” reads the instagram post. “Join us in a PEACEFUL PROTEST on Friday, June 5th, 2020 at Maxwell Place Park Hoboken, NJ @ 1:00PM. TOGETHER AS ALLIES, WE DEMAND JUSTICE.”
Not much is known about Allies 4 Justice, other than a social media presence that was only hatched days ago.
TAPinto Hoboken exchanged messages with the organization earlier in the week via social media, asking a number of questions about the background of the organization, the format of the event Friday, any scheduled speakers, and what sort of contact they have had with Hoboken authorities.
Despite assurances that they would get back to us, of press time on Wednesday they have not responded to those initial questions or to our subsequent follow up queries.
“Throughout the past several days, residents from all across America have demonstrated their first amendment rights to peacefully protest the brutal and unjust murder of George Floyd,” said Hoboken Police Chief Ken Ferrante and Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla, in a joint statement Tuesday afternoon. “We fully support the right for our residents to peacefully demonstrate in the name of justice and racial equality.
Regarding the upcoming event, Ferrante and Bhalla said, “As residents may know, a demonstration is being organized for Friday in Hoboken. We want to assure our residents that the Hoboken Police Department has spent the past several days preparing for the event. The Hoboken Police Department and Office of Emergency Management are fully prepared to ensure the safety of all residents, demonstrators, and businesses. While we ask residents and our businesses to remain vigilant, please rest assured that the HPD is taking every proactive measure possible to protect our City.”
The event comes days after peaceful demonstrations in neighboring Jersey City, where locally organized rallies have involved the visible presence of municipal officials. Hoboken is hoping for a similar result.
“To this end, we continue to actively speak with the organizers of Friday’s event in order to protect demonstrators, residents and businesses alike,” said the joint statement. “We are also confident that the vast majority of individuals participating in the event will peacefully demonstrate, but still pledge to take every precaution necessary to safeguard our City.”
Bhalla made an attempt to diffuse the event by organizing a “Virtual Vigil” for Thursday, citing concerns over COVID-19 and social distancing protocols.
“For anyone who chooses to participate in Friday’s demonstration, we ask you please wear a face mask at all times and social distance whenever possible,” said Ferrante and Bhalla. “Thank you to residents for your understanding.”
Whatever the intent of Friday’s Hoboken rally, evidence nationwide is that these peaceful demonstrations have the unfortunate ability to be disrupted by attendees with a different agenda. Footage of damaged and looted properties has Hoboken businesses and residents understandably concerned.
"What is happening across our country is heartbreaking and frightening. We acknowledge and stand against racial injustice, and are committed to being part of the solution,” said Gregory Dell’Aquilla, President of the Hoboken Business Alliance.
“Hate has no place in our city. We support peaceful efforts to make our community better, kinder and more understanding. We know our elected leaders and departments who protect and defend us will do their best to keep us safe,” he adds. “Please make sure our businesses can operate safely.”
Hoboken was among the first to enact lockdowns on local businesses due to COVID-19, and in doing so became “the model” for the regional response to the pandemic. Those businesses are just now returning to some form of life, and face an already uncertain future in the days, weeks, months ahead.
“The Hoboken Business Alliance is committed to supporting our local community, especially through these uncertain times and events,” said Dell’Aquilla. “Hoboken is our home, and we will always be here for Hoboken.”
Maxwell Park, located on the Waterfront nearly a mile north of the Hoboken Train Terminal, has been host to rallies in the past—primarily to protest the nearby Union Dry Dock development.
Social media indicates a fairly sizeable turnout for Friday’s event. TAPinto Hoboken will be among those there to cover the demonstration.
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