Law & Justice

Wave of Protests Increase Around Montclair

Credits: Natalie Heard Hackett
Credits: Courtesy of Armando Diaz
Credits: Courtesy of Armando Diaz
Credits: Natalie Heard Hackett
Credits: Natalie Heard Hackett
Credits: Natalie Heard Hackett
Credits: Natalie Heard Hackett
Credits: Courtesy of Armando Diaz

MONTCLAIR, NJ – Peaceful protests and candlelight vigils have increased in Montclair during the past few weeks. An hour before the tree lighting ceremony was set to begin on Friday, over 50 protesters gathered in the cold and rain holding signs and candles in protest of the grand jury's decision in the Eric Garner case not to indict a responding police officer.

The Garner case received national attention and garnered criticism of police tactics and accusations of institutional racism when a bystander released a cell phone recording of an interaction between Garner and police officers in New York. Garner, who is black, was accused of selling loose cigarettes by officers, who were white. Garner was killed in an altercation with police when a choke hold was used against him. On December 3, a grand jury decided not to indict the officer involved, a decision that drew criticism from the national media and touched off a wave of protests. Garner left behind a wife and six children.

The decision came less than a week after a grand jury found no criminality in the actions of Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year old black man in Ferguson, Mo.

Sign Up for E-News

In both cases, some Montclair residents have expressed outrage and frustration, including on social media. While some responded by asking for a reinstatement of the Conversations on Race Program or another open dialogue, others have taken to the streets around town to voice their concerns.

Attendees on Friday were asked to gather in Montclair with signs that asked for social justice or pay tribute to Garner.

BlueWaveNJ organizers issued the following statement, “At the close of another heartbreaking week, we are saddened to be writing again to express our disappointment and frustration with a system of justice that increasingly appears to many to be failing in the equal application of justice. Whether it be Florida, in Ferguson, and now close to home in Staten Island, we are watching with sadness, with anger, with outrage as too many young and black lives are lost to violence, and justice is not forthcoming. 

Our thoughts are with their families, communities and with those who continue to bear the burden of an unequal system and to suffer the costly consequences of unequally applied justice.  We will continue to support those calling for change in the system and hope our members and friends will join us in the fight for a more just and equitable society for all.  Over the next several weeks we hope to announce additional actions and events that you can take part in.  We hope you will add your voice to this unfolding conversation and join us in sending the message that black lives matter, that all lives are of value and should be equal in the eyes of our justice system.”

October 23

Prior to the ruling in the Ferguson Case, protesters gathered on October 23 at the Church Street Apex to demonstrate. They stood alongside the solidarity singers from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation and sang and gave speeches. The group of about 75 sang, “Justice for Mike Brown, Lord, Justice for Mike Brown…”

November 25

Then on Nov. 25, one day after the St. Louis grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Wilson, BlueWaveNJ organizers teamed up with the Undoing Racism Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair to lead a Silent Candlelight Vigil in Church Street Plaza in response to the grand jury'sdecision.  In that protest, participants were invited to join in a “peaceful yet forceful action for justice.” Organizers said, “We are a gentle, angry people. And we are standing for our lives...."

BlueWaveNJ organizers said, “We are deeply saddened and disappointed by what appears to be the unequal application of justice -  first by the police action and now by the judicial process - as seen in the Ferguson Missouri grand jury's decision not to return an indictment in the death of Michael Brown yesterday. We stand with their families and with those who continue to be unfairly victimized by an unequal and often unjust system and continue to suffer the terrible consequences of unequally applied justice.  We will continue to support those fighting for change in the system and will continue to work for a more just and equitable society for all.”

December 3

On December 3, over a hundred Montclair High School students of various nationalities gathered in the amphitheater locking arms and holding signs that read, “Black Lives Matter.” A sign on the wall behind them read, “MHS in Solidarity.” Students also spoke and at one point paused to ask all of the African American males to raise their hands in the surrender position.

December 4

Montclair Police Sgt. Tyrone Williams, who is also the President of Sentinels 16 minority police officers organization, teamed up with Roxanne Kent and the Union Congregational Church to bring together 100 community leaders that included Mayor Jackson, the entire council and Montclair Police Chief Sabagh to view a private stage reading entitled Uniform Justice, with the idea of jumpstarting a conversation about positive police-community relations.

Co-Organizer Kent stated, “We invite you to join in our effort to start a conversation to build greater engagement and communication between our police forces and the community they serve. We need all voices at the table.” The Montclair police Department has also been proactive with their community policing initiative and Coffee with a Cop program where the public is able to interact with officers in a positive light.

December 5

In front of Renaissance School on Friday morning, during parent drop-off, yet another group of protesters gathered on the corner near the school holding signs. On Friday evening,  over 50 protesters peacefully gathered in front of the holiday tree lighting. Some elected officials, such as Councilor Renee Baskerville and Freeholder-elect Britnee Timberlake, also joined in solidarity with the protesters.

Other vigils, teach-ins and forums have been scheduled around town for the coming weeks and months through various organizations in Montclair.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


In Photos: Local Parks Flood During Monday Morning Rainstorms

April 17, 2018

NUTLEY, NJ - This morning's downpours sent torrents of water into the Third River causing it to over flow its banks.

Passaic Avenue at Brookside was closed by the Nutley Police Department shortly after TAPinto Nutley arrived to capture these images of the flooding. 

Runoff inundated Memorial Park, caused the Third River to spill over its banks in Yanticaw Park, ...

After Comparing Democrats to Nazis, Leaders Call for Resignation of Montville Committeewoman

April 12, 2018

MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township Committee voted to censure Committee Member June Witty for a personal Facebook post she made on April 8 which compared Democrats to Nazis. All four members of the five-person committee asked for her resignation.

The post, a chart which states that Nazis believed in “media mind control,” “no guns,” abortion, and ...

Upcoming Events

Fri, April 20, 12:00 PM

Little Falls Public Library, Little Falls

History of the Jersey Shore

Arts & Entertainment Education Other


Fri, April 20, 6:00 PM

Montclair Public Library Auditorium, Montclair

Let's Listen to Jazz

Arts & Entertainment

Letter to the Editor: Don't Complain. Vote!

April 14, 2018

Don’t Complain; Vote!

It’s no secret that people have strong feelings about what’s happening in our country. It’s also true that much of politics is local. In November, 11th District residents will have the opportunity to choose a new congressional representative who will not only serve as a critical check on the federal level, but also determine how our distract fares ...

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse


MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...

A Walk in the Park, 2018

April 20, 2018

A Walk in the Park, 2018

“A Walk in the Park” is a tour sponsored by the Nutley Historical Society that will be held on Sunday, May 27.  The tour, led by Nutley Museum director John Simko, begins at 9:00 a.m. at the Mud Hole (near the intersection of Passaic and Vreeland avenues) and travels along the Third River.  Mr. Simko will talk about the river’s role in ...