Chanting “No Justice, No Peace!” activists on Saturday staged a peaceful procession from Morristown to Morris Township for a vigil in memory of George Floyd, the black man seen on video being asphyxiated by a white police officer in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
“I saw history in the making tonight. I was very proud of our community,” said Morristown resident Helen Arnold, who has been active in the local African American community for many years.
“This is Morristown. We do it right,” Black Lives Matter Morristown co-founder T’Anna Kimbrough told the crowd.
Protesters and police clashed in Minneapolis, Seattle and Philadelphia as demonstrations unfolded across the country.
But police reported no problems during the events in Morristown and Morris Township.
Morris Township Police Chief Mark DiCarlo described the event as “very successful” and “well organized.” He estimated the crowd at between 200 and 300 people.
“The rally was well organized, peaceful and a moving tribute to Mr. Floyd,” said Morristown Public Safety Director Michael Corcoran Jr. “I commend the organizers, participants and our officers under the command of Chief Darnell Richardson for ensuring a successful and safe event for all.”
Police from Morris Plains and Madison and the Morris County Park Police also were on hand.
Although social distancing was difficult to maintain, and the gathering exceeded the governor’s limit of 25 persons, many activists and a number of officers wore masks in an effort to prevent spreading the coronavirus.
As activists drove from Morristown High School, in what they described as a funeral procession, church bells pealed and people cheered along Speedwell Avenue. The activists’ were headed to police headquarters in Morris Township. Candles were lit as darkness fell.
For the final leg of the journey, the activists marched down Woodland Avenue. One marcher bore a placard reading “F*** Police.”
Another sign, bearing photos of Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, a black man shot by a white man while jogging through a Georgia neighborhood in February, asked “Can I exist?”
The four Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd’s arrest have been fired, and Officer Derek Chauvin was charged Friday with third-degree murder.
In Morris Township, civil rights activist and Senate candidate Lawrence Hamm said America is standing at the crossroads of democracy and fascism.
The Rev. Alison Miller of the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship declared it’s time for the country to “make amends and to repair all that white supremacy culture and capitalism deems disposable.” She called Floyd’s death a “modern-day lynching.”
The rally was organized by Black Lives Matter Morristown and the Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center.
Arnold said she was amazed and heartened by the outpouring.
“People from all walks of life were there to support Black Lives Matter,” she said, and to protest “the senseless murders of black men and women in this country.”
Love and respect permeated the evening, Arnold said. “It was not an easy job for the handlers of such a massive crowd. Kudos to the organizers. Black Lives Matter. God bless the USA,” she said.
Chief DiCarlo said police hope to sit down with local activists to discuss their concerns.
Correspondent Marion Filler contributed to this report.
MORE COVERAGE TO COME
Activists on Woodland Avenue in Morris Township, May 30, 2020. Video by Marion Filler for MorristownGreen.com:
The Rev. Alison Miller addresses Black Lives Matter vigil for George Floyd, May 30, 2020. Video by Louise Witt:
Crowd chants ‘George Floyd,’ the name of an African American choked to death by a white police officer in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. Video by Louise Witt, May 30, 2020:
Civil Rights activist Lawrence Hamm leads chants for justice at Morris Township vigil for George Floyd, a black man who died while being arrested on Memorial Day by white police officers in Minneapolis. Video by Louise Witt, May 30, 2020:
Funeral procession for George Floyd inches from Morristown to Morris Township. Video by Deborah McComber, May 30, 2020:
Activists organized by Black Lives Matter Morristown march in Morris Township, May 30, 2020, protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Video by Leslie Raff:
‘We’re doing it right!’ Black Lives Matter Morristown co-founder T’Anna Kimbrough addresses George Floyd rally, May 30, 2020. Video by Leslie Raff:
Activists march for George Floyd, Morris Township, May 30, 2020. Video by Leslie Raff: