WESTFIELD, NJ — Student organizers are gearing up for a Sunday protest to be held in Mindowaskin Park and include tributes to George Floyd — a black man who died while in the custody of Minneapolis police.
A 16-year-old junior at Westfield High School and the event’s principal organizer, Nala Scott said black students will share their experiences of racism and allies are invited to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement in what is among a series of protests across the region following Floyd’s death last week.
“Westfield needs to be better, and it’s not just Westfield that needs to be better,” Scott said. “The world needs to be better, and I will fight long and hard to make sure that happens.”
Organizers are billing Sunday’s event scheduled for 2:45 p.m. as a peaceful protest in support of Black Lives Matter. The event has the backing of Westfield High School’s “No Place for Hate” committee, which was formed in coordination with the Anti-Defamation League.
Organizers have scheduled at least nine speakers, including Mayor Shelley Brindle, who said she is inspired by the activism, despite concerns about COVID-19.
“While I am a nervous wreck about the public health aspect of all this, I am actually encouraged and inspired by the activism that we’re seeing from people — especially from our youth,” Brindle TAPinto Westfield.
Brindle reiterated the organizers' message that due to coronavirus, attendees should wear masks and observe proper social distancing. The mayor also encouraged anyone who believes they may have been exposed to COVID-19 to get tested at the county’s COVID-19 testing center at Kean University. The facility is now testing asymptomatic individuals.
As was with Thursday's march, police are apprised of the event and will be on hand.
“We will absolutely be present,” said Chief Christopher Battiloro, who added that his family also will be at Mindowaskin Park Sunday. “Our job is ensuring the public’s safety. We fully intend to protect the constitutional rights of those wishing to peacefully assemble and express themselves.”
Scott said she and the other organizers are committed to keeping the event peaceful and are confident they have the support of local law enforcement.
“I’m in a group chat with 83 teenagers, and I made sure that they are on board, and they can keep people in check if they start to get rowdy,” she said.
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