More protests in NJ remain calm with cops joining and listening
Protests over the killing of George Floyd remained peaceful Tuesday in New Jersey with police and public officials in some cases joining the demonstrators.
The comity was a departure from sporadic incidents of violence following demonstrations this weekend in Atlantic City, Asbury Park and Trenton. Federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged a 21-year-old South Plainfield man with trying to set a police car on fire in downtown Trenton on Sunday night.
Tuesday's demonstrations started in Toms River with about 100 marchers led by township resident Katrina Garcia, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer and police Chief Mitch Little, who made their way to the Ocean County Courthouse and took a knee together in Floyd's honor.
After being bused back to the shopping center, many of the marchers remained for a day-long demonstration, complete with a DJ, that spilled over at times onto Route 37.
Further south, protesters stayed on the sidewalk of the Route 52 Causeway as they made their way into Ocean City on Tuesday afternoon.
The group Latinos Contra Trump posted photos on their Twitter account showing protesters lying facedown on the sidewalk for 8 1/2 minutes, the amount of time Floyd was held to the ground while a Minneapolis officer kneeled on his neck.
Mayor Jay Gillian said the protest was "peaceful."
"It was an example of how different people can come together to send an important message. I could not be prouder of how our community and the police handled themselves, and I was glad to see Sgt. Tyrone Rolls and Lt. Pat Randles join the proceedings to offer their perspectives," Gillian wrote on the city website.
Rolls, who is African American, told the crowd that riots in the past didn't succeed in bringing change.
"We're all standing here together. No violence, no rioting. Everybody's getting their voice heard," Rolls said.
Marchers who met at the Cherry Hill Mall marched along Route 38 chanting "black lives matter" to the honks of cars that were stopped.
Cherry Hill police Chief William P. Monaghan listened to a protester who asked what departments are going to do to change.
"Change happens one positive contact at a time. This is a positive contact here. It's a positive contact between all of us. So let's start that change with this positive contact that we're having here today and bring it forward," Monaghan said. "Everyone can change another person. You change people with your actions and your words and with your heart."
On Tuesday, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced policy reforms to build on police accountability and transparency measures implemented in December. Among the new programs are a licensing system for police officers, a central database of police use-of-force reports, and training on handling people suffering mental health crises.
Hundreds of chanting people filled downtown Princeton and closed Route 27 late Tuesday afternoon for the "Kneeling for Justice" protest. Marchers carried signs and left messages such as "how many more" and "what will you tell your children" in chalk on the street, according to Planet Princeton's coverage of the march.
Hightstown police took a knee and hugged marchers, including many high school students. The afternoon event closed the center of town, according to photos posted by MidJersey.news.
Union City Mayor Brian Stack joined marchers in a "peaceful protest with a very loud message," he said on his Facebook page.
"We stand united and demand justice and equality for all," Stack wrote.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ
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