TRENTON, NJ – Gov. Phil Murphy used much of his daily COVID-19 update on Monday, June 1, to address the 30 protests were held around New Jersey in reaction to the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who suffocated and died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes.
"I want to start, if I may, by lifting up the many peaceful and moving protests which took place across our nation, and especially our state this weekend, drawing attention to the systemic racism that exists throughout our society," Murphy said. "I support these protests, and I thank the thousands of residents who peacefully and respectfully took part."
"I know the pain associated with this movement is real, and it's representative of a society that has been largely unresponsive to calls for change and equal justice from Black and Brown communities," he added. "This is a transformational moment in our time. Protest is the language of the unheard, of the ignored, and the names must be said again and again and again. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmed Aubrey, and many more before them who lost their lives for no reason other than for the color of their skin."
Cities from Houston to Atlanta to San Francisco have been left smoldering after several nights of clashes with law enforcement, but it has been a different tale in New Jersey, State Police Superintendent Lt. Pat Callahan said.
The protests in Trenton (27 arrests) and Atlantic City (12 arrests) were the only ones to turn violent. Most of those arrested were charged with criminal mischief, Callahan said. In Trenton, a police car was set on fire. In Atlantic City store windows were smashed and looters made off with merchandise.
Callahan said local law enforcement officials were able to keep many of the protests peaceful by being prepared and showing compassion. In Camden, images of police chief Joseph Wysocki and other cops kneeling with protestors was shared across the country via social media and TV outlets such as ABC News.
“He pointed to what he thought was going to be success and he was right because he had the clergy, the organizers, law enforcement meet out ahead of that and his leading by example and standing in solidarity with his community I think resonated not only throughout New Jersey but throughout the country,” Callahan said.
Murphy said the state has been informed of nine more protests planned for tonight. It prompted him to end Monday’s news conference with a call for protestors to resist the sort of looting and mayhem seen in several other cities.
“I do want to plead with you all both in the press, our colleagues and most importantly everybody listening,” Murphy said. “This has been overwhelming, as it should be in New Jersey, outrageous in terms of the death of this man, outrageous as yet another data point. It screams out the systemic racism that remains in this country. But also, embraced by almost everyone that peaceful protesting is ultimately the way we get to the better place.”
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