PATERSON, NJ — Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly and Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter will help lead a Jeneteenth peace march Saturday. The event, set to kick off at 9 a.m. in front of Integrity Masonic Temple will continue along Broadway and end inside Eastside Park.

A short program will be held inside the park with community leaders, including special guest Chief Al Tambua Moody, releasing black balloons while saying the names of each victim who police killed. These victims include two 16-year-olds from New Jersey: Phillip Pannell and Lawrence Myers.

Pannell, 15 at the time of his death, was shot and killed on April 10, 1990 in Teaneck while Myers was 16 and unarmed when he was shot in the back of the head by a police officer during a drug sweep.  

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“We are marching to build unity in Paterson and stand in solidarity with Black communities across the nation,” Wimberly said. “But in doing so, remember, we are still facing a global pandemic, so the community must continue to maintain CDC guidelines by social distancing and wearing masks.” 

The march is part of a growing list of Juneteenth protests happening in cities nationwide to commemorate the day—June 19, 1865—when Union Gen. Gordon Granger went to Galveston, Texas to announce the freedom of slaves, putting the Emancipation Proclamation into effect. This year’s celebration will be especially energetic after the recent police murders of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Maurice Gordon, here, in New Jersey.

Wimberly and members of the Legislative Black Caucus are pushing legislation to make Juneteenth a permanently observed paid state holiday and to list chokeholds as deadly use of force.

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