MILLTOWN, NJ - The borough will host a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration on Friday, June 19 in Borough Park from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Masks and social distancing is required by the organizers. Snacks and signs are suggested. An open microphone will be on hand for demonstrators wishing to speak. There will also be music and guest speakers.
Milltown joins other Central New Jersey towns including South Brunswick, South River, Monroe, Edison, Highland Park, Piscataway and New Brunswick to hold peaceful Black Lives Matter protests in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. East Brunswick will hold a protest on Friday, June 12 organized by students from East Brunswick High School. Black Lives Matter is an international human rights movement that works to end violence and systemic racism.
Milltown resident and borough business woman Katty Velez is one of the organizers of the upcoming BLM demonstration. Velez was moved to bring a Black Lives Matter demonstration to Milltown along with other borough mothers after her son became a victim of racism a few weeks ago when he was playing in the Albert Avenue Park.
"This demonstration is being put together by a group of mama bears from Milltown who all rallied around our family after my son became a victim of blatant racism while playing in the park," Velez explained. "These moms and so many members of the community came to offer their support and let us know where they stood when it came to racism. They have zero tolerance for it and neither do I."
Velez and her family have attended recent demonstrations in Monroe and South Brunswick.
"It was only fitting that after attending a few rallies together WITH our children that we decided it was time to bring this message home to Milltown," Velez said when asked why she felt it was important to bring a Black Lives Matter protest to Milltown. "While Milltown is a wonderful town full of wonderful NJ families it also has a sad/dark history of open racism. We want to put an end to that and let New Jersey know where we stand."
"We have spoken to the event organizer and are grateful for her peaceful planning and cooperation," said Milltown Police Chief Brian Knelle. "The Milltown Police fully support peaceful and lawful gatherings and embrace the ideas and concerns that raise awareness to this important topic. I wish everyone a safe and productive event."
"This demonstration will be different," Velez said when asked what she hopes participants take away from the June 19 demonstration. "We don't want to work up the crowd to anger. We want to give voice to students and residents about their experiences with racism and how it affects them whether they live in town or local to the area."
Velez is encouraging participants to bring signs and to briefly share their stories so that as many people as possible can speak.
Borough Park is located at 80 Violet Terrace. Parking is also available on Washington Avenue. Additional questions can be emailed to Velez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Everyone deserves to be heard," Velez added. "Seeing a child playing in the park should be just that; a child. It seemed that instead of a child sadly a racist person sees a threat or something worse. We need to understand each other and learn to accept our differences."