A group of several dozen young people marched from the Maplewood Police Station on Springfield Avenue to South Orange Village Center and back again this evening, protesting recent shootings of black men by police in Baton Rouge, LA and Minnesota.
The rally began sometime after 5:30 p.m. and ended by 8 p.m.
Protesters held signs and chanted slogans such as “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” and “Justice Now.”
Maplewood and South Orange police worked to block intersections so that protesters could march safely. Not seen in the video posted here: The lead protester thanking the police officer for blocking traffic at Prospect Street and Tuscan Road before the group crossed the intersection.
South Orange Village President Sheena Collum worked with South Orange Police to greet and escort the protesters in South Orange. Collum posted on Facebook: “I’m very proud of the youth in our towns. I got out of the PD vehicle and walked with them for a while. They’re incredibly smart and passionate about wanting to make the world a more peaceful place. I learned a lot from just listening to what they had to say and we will be working with them and other members of our community on next steps.”
The protest was organized by Columbia High School grads Sydney Scruggs (Class of 2013), Emanual Grant (’13), Felisha George (’12), Cory Hardy (’13) and Alfonso Spottswood (’13).
The group is planning more protests as soon as possible, said Scruggs, “because things are getting ridiculous in this world. We have to be heard somehow.” Scruggs hopes to organize “candle lightings, PEACEFUL protests, and many more things” around Essex County in the near future.
Meanwhile, Scruggs and his fellow protesters were pleasantly surprised by the response of local police to their protest. “Working with South Orange and Maplewood police was great! We didn’t expect that at all. They were a great help and we really appreciate it.”
Scruggs also was moved by the response of passersby and motorists — many of whom tapped their car horns in solidarity. “I definitely felt the love and support today. More than ever in our towns. It was amazing.”
Photos courtesy of Thandi Center, Sherry Petrin and Sheena Collum. Click to enlarge: