NJ Protests Remain Peaceful as Philly, New York Erupt in Violence
Demonstrations in New Jersey were largely peaceful Saturday as crowds of masked protestors carried signs and marched in solidarity against the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.
Camden County Police took part in a Saturday unity walk, alongside local clergy and community leaders, "to stand in solidarity and unity with all residents who are rightfully angered, concerned and upset about the actions of the officers in Minneapolis and the murder of George Floyd," Police Chief Joe Wysocki said in a written statement.
Derek Chauvin, 44, was fired from his job as a Minneapolis police officer this week, and charged with Floyd's murder on Friday. Widely circulated video shows the former officer with his knee to Floyd's neck for more than 8 minutes, as Floyd, on the ground and in handcuffs, told the officer he couldn't breathe before falling unresponsive.
Wysocki continued: "We know that together we are stronger, we know that together, in the city of Camden, we can create a space where policing is focused on deescalation and dialogue. When our officers are deployed on the street and in the neighborhoods they are committed to preserving the sanctity of life and building a stronger city."
Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli said the event was a result of years of direct interaction, relationship building and community policing.
In Newark, Mayor Ras Baraka joined a march organized by the civil rights group The People's Organization for Progress, in protest against the police killing of Floyd.
Trenton drew a crowd of a few hundred, where a roughly 90-minute protest included speeches, a march and a candlelight vigil, as reported by Planet Princeton,
In Morris County, a funeral car procession and vigil was organized by Black Lives Matter Morristown, in remembrance of Floyd.
A photo from Camden's unity walk also was shared Sunday by Gov. Phil Murphy, who said "Yesterday in New Jersey, protestors marched side by side with law enforcement, in peaceful demonstration against systemic racism and police violence. We can – we MUST – march toward justice together."
“The horror that unfolded in Minneapolis is painful for us all. The actions that we saw on video are contrary to all our training and does harm to the good reputation of the overwhelming number of brave men and women in law enforcement trying to do their job in an honorable and lawful manner," State Policemen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Colligan said in a written statement Saturday.
He continued "Nobody in law enforcement can look at that video and justify the actions of those officers."
“We condemn the actions of the officer involved, Derek Chauvin, as well as the inaction of the officers that stood by and let George Floyd die," Colligan said.
Colligan also said "Please remember that the 900,000 members of law enforcement will have direct contact with over 53 million of our citizens a year throughout this country. We must support the overwhelming number of good officers on the street trying to do their jobs in an honorable and lawful manner. We cannot abandon our police at this time."
In Philadelphia, 13 police officers were injured as protests turned violent Saturday, according to the city's police department. Looting and vandalism in the Center City area of Philadelphia continued late into the evening as the city imposed an 8 p.m. curfer.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf Saturday evening signed a disaster emergency declaration, providing "all necessary assistance," including the state National Guard and Pennsylvania State Police, in dealing with the escalation of protests in Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.
“People have every right to speak out and demonstrate, but it’s unacceptable to take advantage of protests to incite violence, harm others and destroy property,” Wolf said.
“This emergency declaration will help Philadelphia access resources and police support from other jurisdictions, including other states, as we manage the impact of this weekend’s demonstrations,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in the same statement released by Wolf's office.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw held a news conference Sunday, where she said peaceful protesters would be encouraged to act within their rights, while she said outright acts of violence were disrespectful and would not be tolerated.
"There's other ways to address this," Outlaw said, adding: "It's people coming in from outside the city, who are tearing up the city."
Violence also broke out during protests in New York City, where police said 345 people were arrested, 33 officers were injured and 27 police vehicles were damaged. No major injuries were reported.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday that city police showed “tremendous restraint overall” but that he was concerned about video showing two police cruisers lurching into a crowd of demonstrators on a Brooklyn street.
The mayor said he would appoint two city officials to carry out an independent review of how the protests unfolded and how they were handled by the police.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.