ABOVE: Peaceful protest in neighboring Jersey City at Berry Lane Park – June 1, 2020
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hMAG reached out to the organization calling itself Allies4Justice, which has been promoting Friday’s event on social media, to give them an opportunity to explain to our readers the background of their organization, the format of the event Friday, and what sort of contact they have had with Hoboken authorities.
hMAG: What is the goal of your event Friday?
Allies4Justice: Allies4Justice is coming together to demonstrate the current lives lost due to police brutality and systematic racism. Our goal is to show solidarity to our Black brothers and sisters and demand justice for the wrongful killing of George Floyd, and all the other black lives lost to the wrongful use of force by the police. We are a diverse group of individuals that believe allyship is important and that we need to support causes like these in order to amplify Black voices.
h: Who will be speaking at the event, and what are their backgrounds?
Allies4Justice: Some of our organizers will be sharing their own personal stories at the event. We also have local organizers and activists from the black community sharing some words during the demonstration.
h: What is planned for the three hours? Is there a march, or simply an assembly at Maxwell Park?
Allies4Justice: This Friday the protest will be taking place at the Maxwell Park in Hoboken, NJ starting at 1pm and ending at 4pm. We will start the protest with opening statements from our organizers, and guest speakers. We will be starting from Maxwell Park and ending at Pier A. We have a path blocked off for us.
h: What can you say to our readers who may have concerns over public safety, given the unfortunate occurrences at similar events nationwide?
Allies4Justice: As organizers of this protest, safety was one of our main priorities. We wanted to make sure we created a safe space where people could peacefully stand for black lives and also feel safe while doing so. We do not want any more black and brown being harmed during this protest. That’s why it was crucial to us to contact the Hoboken Mayor’s Office as well as Hoboken Police Department. Since then, the City of Hoboken in conjunction with Hoboken Police Department released a press statement to exhibit their support for this event and securing Hoboken residents that they were doing everything possible to make sure everyone is safe this Friday.
h: What would you like to see from attendees on Friday?
Allies4Justice: This Friday we would like to see ALL people come out to support our black brothers and sisters in peaceful action. We want to demand justice for the lives lost and we want to see everyone that attends our protest to come with signs promoting the important message at hand.
Our movement is not about violence, but wanting the black community to be treated with equality.
We hope the residents of Hoboken can stand with us as we fight for our human rights.
Hoboken Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante issued his own statement Wednesday night, saying, “My command staff and I have worked around the clock since last Friday to ensure that we have a peaceful protest and peaceful day in Hoboken. The burden of the responsibility on me is to ensure that I direct our officers and the other agencies who will be assisting, to make certain we maintain a peaceful march. While we are prepared to work with the organizers for the duration of the event, we are also prepared to attempt to prevent or respond to any negative situation that comes our way.”
Meanwhile Mayor Ravi Bhalla collaborated with the Hoboken Clergy Coalition to establish a “Virtual Vigil” for Thursday night, expressing concerns over COVID-19 in an environment such as a protest.
“How do you organize an inclusive outdoor protest with 25 people, six feet apart? It’s a great question,” said Bhalla via social media Monday night, “and regrettably I do not think it is possible in the context of the necessary public health restrictions created by this pandemic.”
The Mayor added, “I cannot offer you advice as to whether or not to attend this gathering, except to make an educated decision and express your free speech rights ‘eyes wide open’ about the pandemic we are facing and safer alternatives.”
Meanwhile, businesses throughout the City of Hoboken have been preparing for Friday, with some even boarding up their storefronts. This seemingly drastic measure comes after a long week of jarring footage in which businesses have been looted.
“Hate has no place in our city,” said Gregory Dell’Aquilla, President of the Hoboken Business Alliance. “We support peaceful efforts to make our community better, kinder and more understanding. We know our elected leaders and departments who protect and defend us will do their best to keep us safe.”