SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Several hundred people gathered at the South Orange Middle School on Tuesday evening, July 12, for a program organized by the SOMA Clergy Association and five young leaders of the “not in our two towns” movement.
The evening opened with a few comments from the Rev. Sandye Wilson of The Episcopal Church of St. Andrew and Holy Communion, who said "kids are our leaders today – they and we all are tired of tragedy”
"We’re worn out because there’s too much to feel – there’s no room for bigotry and hatred in our two towns. We must control guns and watch out for the rise of the White Supremacy groups with guns and spreading hatred and a rise in Anti-Semitism," continued Wilson. Wilson added, "we are all in the same boat now even though we came here on different boats."
After a few additional words from the other adults on the stage, the five youth leaders of the local "Not In Our Two Towns" movement, Emanuel Grant, Cory Hardy, Sidney Scruggs, Felisha George, and Alfonso Spottswood, entered the stage and one by one acted out the killing of five people by the police: Trayvon Martin, Philandro Castile, Alton Sterling, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland.
George spoke explaining that this is a movement with a purpose, and called for a moment of silence for everyone lost, child, parent, grandparent, etc. George stated the goal of the movement is to encourage that everyone is equal, bring people together, and to stand up for one another.
The young people in attendance then left to meet with the leaders separately, while adults had an opportunity to express their thoughts in a group as well.
Among the speakers were local police officers, who stated that they are here to help and protect the community, and to keep both towns safe, and to develop a friendship with the community.
Sheena Collum, South Orange Village President, extolled her praise about the leadership of Felisha George and the other four organizers of the movement, commenting how impressed she has been with what they say and exhibit in their actions.
Maplewood Mayor Vic De Luca spoke as well, stating "Rudy Giuliani doesn't speak for all mayors and certainly not me." De Luca continued, "It doesn't matter what Rudy Giuliani thinks, the Mayor of Maplewood believes Black Lives Matter ... and I will work to get guns off our streets..."
"We have to take our lead from the young people. Our generation has failed to resolve this problem. We need space for new leaders and new thinking to allow change for them and generations to come," stated De Luca.
The police officers in attendance were called up to stage to introduce themselves and show their support for the Not In Our Two Towns movement, adding "the youth here are our future."