Nearly 2,000 protesters gathered in Newark demanding justice for George Floyd and the end of police brutality in America. “Don’t let anybody tell you to suppress your anger. They are killing black people like dogs in the street!” said People’s Organization of Progress (POP) chairman Lawrence Hamm through a microphone and speaker, capturing the righteous indignation and anger felt by the people in attendance.
Hamm, along with several other speakers, stressed the need for both direct action and political organization in Newark to pass serious reforms that would give citizens true oversight over New Jersey law enforcement.
Huge swaths of the crowd then marched about a mile from the Essex County Courthouse to Newark City Hall, as chants of “George Floyd,” “No justice, no peace,” and “Black lives matter” echoed throughout. Onlookers spontaneously joined the growing crowd. Members of the community, along with people from POP and North New Jersey DSA, were handing out water bottles and snacks for people during the mile-long trek.
At some point, protesters completely blocked traffic on the intersection of Broad St. and Market St. with their cars and started impromptu dancing, spray-painting, and chants.
Cops were noticeably removed from the commotion with people noting that there may have been orders to stand down after Newark Mayor Ras Baraka endorsed the protest.
Once the rally ended, a much tenser interaction between protesters and police developed at the 1st Precinct. Medics, some of them members of DSA, waited in anticipation to provide first aid for protesters if things escalated to violence; Bloomfield police backup arrived on the scene with zip ties.
Attempts by police to socialize with the crowd were rejected and met with boos. One Newark resident — a pastor — tried to get in between and asked the crowd to pray. Protesters jeered, one saying, “We have been praying for 400 years. We don’t want prayers, we want change.”