WESTFIELD, NJ — Ny Moore stood outside Genesis Healthcare's Westfield Center for nearly nine minutes, eyes closed and silent.

Holding onto a poster naming victims of police brutality, she thought of the pain George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who died under the knee of police officer Derik Chauvin, endured for that amount of time.

“Just imagine having someone press down on your carotid artery for eight minutes and 46 seconds,” said Moore, who works at Westfield Center. “How could you not have a kind of feeling towards it?”

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Moore, who lives in Plainfield, stood with dozens of her colleagues and hundreds of other healthcare workers throughout New Jersey on Thursday, as walkouts from healthcare workers swept the state, part of a nationwide movement in support of Black Lives Matter and against police brutality.

Clad in masks and holding posters, healthcare workers used their lunch breaks to stage the walkout and hold an eight minute and 46 second moment of silence. Employees of Genesis Healthcare, which has a substantial number of immigrant and minority workers, expressed their hopes for legislative reform to curb the racial profiling of African-Americans. 

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“We are here because we have sons that are African-Americans, and we would like our sons to walk on the street, jog on the road, go to the park, without the racial profiling,” said Sherel Redwood, an African-American and 19-year-long employee of Genesis Healthcare.

The walkout, organized by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, called for similar political action, including civilian oversight of police and larger investments in social services including health, housing and youth programs. The union had scheduled walkouts at 10 facilities across New Jersey, including those in Edison, Ridgewood, East Orange and Wayne.

“The murder of George Floyd and the nationwide eruption of grief and outrage has made it clear—our country will no longer turn a blind eye to the police violence that has taken countless Black lives,” said Milly Silva, the executive vice president of 1199SEIU, in a statement. “1199SEIU healthcare workers are today standing up against oppression and systemic racism as they continue to serve on the frontlines battling COVID-19.”

In a statement, Genesis Healthcare said they supported the dialogue started by their employees and are committed to establishing a diversity committee within the company. 

Lining the sidewalk outside the facility in silence, workers hoped those in power would hear their voices.

“We can march and protest, but the right people need to understand and be aware of what's going on,” Moore said. “I’m hoping we can do enough so things can start changing.”

Email: danieljustinhan@gmail.com | Twitter: @danieljhan_