CLARK, NJ — As cries of police brutality in the death of George Floyd swept the nation via protests this weekend, local social media pages began churning up a storm of rumors about demonstrations, rallies and even threats coming to town soon.
It started over the weekend with screen captures posted on local Facebook pages of tweets calling for people to rally in Clark. By early Monday, Clark’s mayor posted that there was going to be a peaceful march down Westfield Avenue at noon. It never came to be. By the end of the day, there was a flyer circulating about another gathering at the Clark Commons later this week.
Mayor Sal Bonaccorso confirmed he has been in touch with one of the organizers responsible for a peaceful demonstration held in Rahway on Sunday. He said the same group is looking to hold a gathering in Clark soon.
The mayor said he thinks the group wants to bring awareness and conversation to other towns that are not as racially diverse. “I got a call from the man, they decided not to do it today,” said Bonaccorso. “He said they want a peaceful protest and I believe him.”
Bonaccorso also confirmed that Police Chief Pedro Matos has been in contact with someone connected to a second gathering advertised on a flyer, directing people to gather on Thursday at the Clark Commons.
The mayor said the shopping center is private property and not the place to park, gather and protest but he suspects its proximity to the busiest intersection in Union County at the corner of Raritan and Central has appeal.
“By constitution people have the right to free speech, to gather and exercise their civil rights to protest, but the law is the law,” said Bonaccorso. “We will respect their civil rights and hopefully they will recognize our rights and responsibilities too.”
The mayor said the Clark Police Department and township officials are monitoring the situations and have held internal briefings.