RANDOLPH, NJ- An estimated 1,000 people poured into Freedom Park for the “Randolph March for Black Lives” on the evening of Friday, June 5. Organized by three former Randolph students, the event was strictly billed as a “Peaceful Protest” in honor of Mr. George Floyd, and all others who have fallen to racial injustice and police brutality.
While some similar marches in big cities across the county have taken an unfortunate turn resulting in civil unrest, the flyer promoting the Randolph march specifically stated, “Anything other than peaceful actions will not be tolerated.” The signage carried by the crowd expressed the intentions of the march, sending strong messages denouncing racism and police brutality. But the true strength, power, and emotion of the event came from the feeling in the air that exuded from the complete and total silence of the group as they walked down Millbrook Ave - side by side with a few officers from Randolph and Morris County, who helped in the planning of the event.
Drew Brown, a 20-year-old Randolph High School graduate (2018), organized the event, along with his older brother Drake (23 yrs old) and sister Dannielle (26 yrs old) both of whom grew up attending Randolph Schools until 9th Grade when they attended Morris Catholic.
“This was a family driven initiative between the three of us, yet we would also like to acknowledge the Randolph Township Police Department in their collaboration and efforts,” said Drew Brown. “It was our hope to bring the community together on common ground, with an aim to fight hate with integrity and make our voices heard in a town we want to be proud to call home.”
After gathering at Freedom Park, and hearing some words from the Brown siblings, the group began their slow and silent walk down Millbrook Ave, ultimately gathering again on the property of the Randolph Township Municipal Building.
After some brief words from Danielle, explaining what George Floyd experienced that fateful day in Minneapolis, the Browns asked the crowd to take a knee in silence for the duration of time that Mr. Floyd was on the ground.
“The response we received from the community was largely positive,” said Drake Brown. “We are sure some may have felt uneasy with the thought of an event like this happening in Randolph, however, it was incredible to see people show support, despite possibly feeling uncomfortable.”
When the eight minutes and 46 seconds were up, the Browns rose to their feet and started to walk through the parking lot to lead the procession back to Freedom Park, but this time there was no silence. They led the group in chanting “Black Lives Matter” as the crowd slowly filed in behind them to head back down Millbrook Road.
Virtually everyone was wearing a mask due to the COVID-19 concern, another issue that has sparked recent controversy but another rule of the march that was strictly stressed by the organizers to help keep all in attendance safe.
“We could not have hoped for a more positive and impactful event,” said Dannielle. “Following the march, we felt like this was a great start, but acknowledge that there is certainly more work to be done.”