Will New Jersey Experience a COVID-19 Surge because of George Floyd Protests?

The concentrations of human activity around justice for George Floyd left NJ.com reporter Brent Johnson wondering about a spike in COVID-19 cases. New Jersey’s trying to stagger out of three months of coronavirus agony, and now people flock in the streets, scorning social distancing orders.

Today at the War Memorial, he asked the Governor Phil Murphy it, shortly after the governor aligned himself with the goals of peaceful protesters.

The answer retreaded an earlier comparison Murphy made and was something of a dodge.

“We’re concerned about people’s health. Again, we’re not out there protesting when the nail salon is going to open, as compared to the death – the tragic death – on full daylight,” Murphy said. “We have to respect the right of people to peacefully protest.

“I would ask people to please cover their face and keep their distance,” he added.


Callahan to Huddle up with African-American State Troopers

Colonel Pat Callahan of the New Jersey State Police said today he will meet with black troopers of various ranks from the within the division following today’s COVID-19 press briefing.

“One of the most powerful calls I got over the weekend was from one of our African-American commanders, who was honestly struggling with being black and being in law enforcement,” Callahan said. “I hope their race and their profession both serve as a tremendous source of pride.”

He praised organizers, clergy and law enforcement for their efforts to work with one another peacefully in the state this weekend.

DOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti engaged by Senator Robert Andrzejczak (D-1).

State Offices Closing Early Today in Trenton

This email today out of Trenton from Diane Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, commissioner New Jersey Department of Transportation:

“Out of an abundance of caution, all state offices will close at 2:30 pm today. If you are working in the building today, please make certain to wrap up your work and be on your way home by 2:30 pm.”

Last night, the state’s capital city was a scene of downtown mayhem.


Hoffman: The only Question Now is Not what Kind of Protest is Effective, but When Will Justice be Served?

Madeyln Hoffman, a lifelong New Jersey peace and justice activist and a Green Party candidate for the United States Senate, this afternoon made the following observations:

“It is wrong for me, as a white person and longtime activist, to presume to judge or explain what I think is the most effective way to respond to the murder of George Floyd. We all watched the terrible sight of a white cop squeezing the life out of a black man as the cop put his weight behind his knee on the neck of a black man pinned to the ground and handcuffed. We all saw this play out in an agonizingly long, painful 9 – 10 minute video and heard George Floyd repeatedly cry out ‘I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe,’ until the last three minutes of the video when George Floyd was unresponsive.

“How many times has the black community witnessed a scene like this play out in front of them? Names like Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others come to mind — so many situations in which black and brown lives are stolen by police with impunity – one on top of the other with no justice. And, of course, the life stolen can never be replaced. How can I possibly understand the depths of the rage and the anguish people feel — if I do, it’s not in the same way. The rage the people of Minneapolis and elsewhere are expressing is real and we can see and touch it.

“My role as an ally and one who opposes this continued onslaught on the black community is to listen and learn, not to judge. The goal of so many of the protestors is simple — to get justice for George Floyd. This means that the three other cops who stood by and participated in Floyd’s murder need to be arrested and charged. And that also means that Derek Chauvin, already charged with 3rd degree murder and manslaughter, needs to be convicted. Given the many moments he had to lift his knee off Floyd’s neck, the urging of onlookers to let Floyd breathe, and the comment by one of the bystanders directed at the cops, ‘He’s human, bro,”’George Floyd should be alive today.

“The question we should be asking today is not what kind of protest is most effective – remember Colin Kaepernick was criticized unfairly for taking a knee before football games — but when will justice be served for George Floyd and when will these unnecessary killings stop?”

Of 17 Atlantic City Arrests, Six Hail from the City, Says Mayor Small

Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small today addressed the media in his hometown concerning yesterday’s protest and subsequent destruction.

The mayor said he participated in a peaceful justice for George Floyd demonstration in Atlantic City on Sunday. A few hours later, he said, a second wave of protesters began looting and breaking windows.

Out of the 17 people arrested, six were from Atlantic City, the mayorr told reporters.

Today, he led a couple hundred residents, community leaders and just every day people who wanted to help and help clean up the town.

Participants walked the entirety of Atlantic City picking up broken glass and cleaning.


Kate Gibbs

Gibbs Rams ‘Shady’ Richter in CD3

Kate Gibbs, Republican Candidate for Congress in New Jersey’s Third Congressional District, launched her first television advertisement across both Burlington and Ocean Counties. er campaign said the ad, “Shady”, exposes David Richter’s past business dealings and “his true feelings” on President Donald J. Trump contrasted with Kate Gibbs conservative track record.

“From opening offices in China, to profiting from terrorist regimes, to doing business with the Bidens, to trashing President Trump, it’s time Burlington and Ocean County Republicans learned about the real David Richter,” said Campaign Manager Angelo Lamberto. “There is only one true conservative in this race and it’s Kate Gibbs. A proven tax cutter and fiscal hawk with a record of helping to create private sector jobs for working-class men and women, Kate is the only Republican who can defeat Andy Kim in November and make history as the first-ever woman elected to Congress from South Jersey.”

The full text is below:

David Richter has some shady friends. Opening offices in China to steal American jobs.

Richter raked in millions dealing with terrorist Muammar Gaddafi after he killed US soldiers and civilians.

Richter even partnered with Joe Biden’s family to pump business through Obama’s State Department.

No wonder Richter attacked President Trump, his shady friends would want it that way. 

Kate Gibb is the real Conservative, supporting President Trump, creating jobs in American, not China.

I’m Kate Gibbs and I approve this message.

Anatomy of a Protest: a Larry Hamm Lesson in the Use of Political Power

Forged in part by the Newark 1967 uprising, Larry Hamm has spent a life time as a nonviolent activist for justice, going back to his high school days and his time at Princeton University when he protested inequities on the leafy campus while simultaneously serving as a local school board member.

The founder and chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress (POP) has led some lonely actions in his lifetime, particularly lately in this gilded age, when most people didn’t want to see or hear of the troubles the country now faces in a deepening destructive crisis.

Saturday’s rally was not one of those ghostly occasions.

Neither was Hamm unprepared for the hundreds of masked people who found their way to the Lincoln statue to demand justice for George Floyd, killed by police in Minneapolis Minnesota last week. The days subsequent to the killing spawned strife and mayhem in cities around the country. Hamm, for his part, led a peaceful protest, in keeping with a life’s work defined by the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The anger out there now suggests that for many at this criticial juncture in our country’s history, peace is an insufficient instrument to get through to a cocooned establishment that inludes a Twitter-raging, divisive and hateful president and elected officials, media and institutions that in a substantial range of instances have abandoned the people’s work, and in some cases have abandoned it utterly.

“This is a perennial issue: nonviolent versus violent,” Hamm told InsiderNJ. “I don’t like hurricanes. I don’t like tornadoes. I can’t control a hurricane. I can’t predict when it’s going to come. I’m not going to condemn people in other places who are doing things differently. I’m not going to condemn rioters, but that’s not what I want to do. That’s not where I’m at, because I want to influence events in my area and the direction we think we should go. The conditions are different from place to place.”

In this instance, the closeness between Hamm and Mayor Ras Baraka – and a shared history of communicating on the ground level about those ground-level crisis events often, usually in fact, far below the headlines, made this occasion pro forma for the two leaders.

The People’s Organization for Progress decided unanimously last Thursday night to hold the demonstration for George Floyd. The members urged Hamm to let Mayor Ras Baraka know about the rally, and so the founder subsequently communicated with the mayor. “I told him what we were going to do in a long text and at the end of it, I invited him to speak.”

Baraka texted back, “Ok. I might be there.”

Hamm later received a call from the police – from a contact he knows and routinely works with – to discuss logistics ahead of the rally.

On Saturday morning, the day of the rally, he got a text from the mayor, who told Hamm he was going to address justice for George Floyd on the steps of City Hall and invited Hamm to stand next to him.

Hamm texted back, “Ok.”

The activist said based on the mayor’s public remarks he sensed Baraka had some information about possible plans for activities that clashed with a peaceful action. Later, at the Lincoln statue, “I felt compelled to speak on it. I know how these things turn out. I was not aware of any specific source of anger or violence, but it we allowed that to occur, the headline would have been ‘protesters out of control.’ It wouldn’t have been, ‘thousands peacfully demand justice.'”

Ultimately, Hamm said, “The main issue is not whether protests are violent or not. The main issue is police brutality and murder of unarmed civilians. It we eliminate police brutality and stop the murder of unarmed civilians I think the violent protests will subside.”


Report: Murphy To Announce ‘Stage 2’ Reopening For Retail, Outdoor Dining, Salons

From NJ.com this morning: Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to announce Monday that hair salons, outdoor dining and nonessential retail stores in New Jersey will soon be allowed to reopen with restrictions as the state moves into “Stage 2” of coronavirus recovery after more than two months of lockdowns to battle the outbreak, NJ Advance Media has learned.

Read the report here.

The Masked and the Unmasked

Even in the best of peaceful circumstances this weekend in NJ amid destructive and violent conflagrations everywhere, people’s rejection of masks in public versus their embrace of masks starkly and significantly marked the deep division in this country.

At a rally in Newark where protesters led by People’s Organization for Progress (POP) Founder (and progressive U.S. Senate candidate) Larry Hamm, hundreds wore masks.

InsiderNJ attended the rally, and while there did not observe anyone unmasked.

By contrast, in Randolph at a Republican event, most attendees did not wear face coverings, including GOP U.S. Senate candidates.

Also in attendance at that event, InsiderNJ observed at least one unmasked individual making a point of shaking hands.

The deep division reflected President Donald J. Trump on the one side of a political debate, scorning the use of a face covering recommended to combat COVID-19 – for which there is no known cure or vaccine and which has claimed the lives of over 100,000 Americans and over 11,000 New Jerseyans – by his government’s own infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci; and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, who makes a point of wearing a mask in public.

It bears mentioning that neither side of the divide could well maintain the suggested six foot social distancing rule.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rik Mehta

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