SOMERVILLE, NJ -Ten minutes after the scheduled 6 p.m. start of Sunday's rally and protest march organized by borough supporters of Black Lives Matter, guest speaker Mason Robinson sat on the steps of the Historic Somerset County Courthouse checking his cell phone; others did the same, or stood around in small groups waiting for the event to begin.
As he has done at several other BLM events over the summer, he exhorted the sparse crowd to fight for and demand social justice and work for change; this was the 12th rally and protest march in the borough since June 5th, nearly three months after the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25th, a flash point that has triggered similar protests around the nation calling for social justice, police oversight and an end to bigotry, intolerance and racism.
The crowds have grown smaller over the summer from a high of 1,000 protestors.
Robinson, a graduate of Somerville High School, led the march of 40-50 peaceful protestors down Main Street and back to the courthouse lawn. Robinson, after graduating SHS, went on to captain the Rutgers University football team. An entrepreneur and local businessman, he is CEO and head coach of Shock the World, as well as head coach of his alma mater's track team and assistant football coach at Montgomery High School.
Floyd, a black Minneapolis man who was taken into police custody on suspicion of passing counterfeit money was handcuffed and detained by police on the ground beside a police vehicle outside a convenience store while a white police officer kneeled on his neck. A bystander recorded the incident on an IPhone.
Floyd begged "I Can't Breathe" through the ordeal and eventually fell silent. He was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Two autopsies determined he had suffocated. Four police officers were fired the next day. One faces Second Degree murder charges, the other three face aiding and abetting charges.
The incident is what has led to the demonstrations in Somerville and nationwide; riots and looting have also plagued the nation's cities as an outgrowth of Floyd's death.
Also Sunday, a group of 40-50 protestors gathered in Hillsborough for a march, sponsored by Our Revolution of Hillsborough. The group followed a route down Amwell Avenue, past the Hillsborough Post Office, turning onto Raider Boulevard past Hillsborough High School and on to Route 206, ending at the Nelson's Corner shopping center where the rally began at 1 p.m.
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