George Floyd protests: Montclairians march
Friday, June 5, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Sponsored by the Montclair Education Association and Restorative Justice Montclair. Montclair Public Schools educators and community members will travel in cars through Montclair's six square miles with messages of solidarity. The caravan will pass all 11 Montclair public school buildings, beginning at Bradford School on Mt. Hebron Road and ending at Nishuane School on Cedar Avenue.
Montclair Citizens for Equality and Fair Policing, and For the Peoples Foundation present The Black Lives Matter Crack the Blue Wall rally and protest
Saturday, June 6, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (march starts at noon)
Nishaune Park, marching to the Montclair Police Department and ending at Crane Park
Protesters are asked to maintain social distancing, wear masks and bring hand sanitizer.
Black Lives Matter Unity Walk
Organized by Montclair High School students
Sunday, June 7, 2 p.m., beginning at Montclair High School
The walk comes with demands upon the district: 1) to desegregate classrooms, including initiating busing for the South End; 2) to have more black teachers and leadership; 3) to dismantle what students called a Eurocentric curriculum; 4) to demand mandatory teacher training on institutional racism; 5) to change the culture by hosting dialogues.
By GWEN OREL
Following the shocking death of George Floyd, Montclairians joined people across the country and around the world in expressing outrage.
Christy Crawford and Karina Linch organized a car caravan, to involve children in protesting.
Township residents attended vigils and marches in Asbury Park, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Newark, and Trenton.
More demonstrations in Montclair are planned for this week (see above). By press time,
some other events will have taken place, including a Zoom meeting with the Montclair Police Department and NAACP held on Tuesday, June 2.
Residents also posted to Facebook groups, voicing their outrage and sorrow and asking for information on any upcoming vigils or marches.
Floyd, a Minneapolis father of two, was held down by a knee to the neck for more than eight minutes as he was being arrested on Monday, May 25, by now-fired policeman Derek Chauvin. Floyd died; Chauvin was later charged with murder.
MONTCLAIR CHILDREN'S CARAVAN
Photographer Neil Grabowsky saw Montclair resident David Wish holding a “Black Lives Matter” sign on the corner adjacent to Lackawanna Plaza on Sunday, May 31. Cars honked
as they drove by, Grabowsky reported.
Cars also honked in solidarity with the car caravan organized by Crawford and Linch that drove through Montclair on Sunday.
“I felt it was important to have a way for our kids to take action over the weekend,” Linch said. When she didn’t see anything planned in Montclair by Saturday evening on Facebook, she put up a post. The event Sunday afternoon, May 31, included more than 50 cars with signs.
“It was a kids' caravan,” said Crawford. She said she was driven by wondering how children could protest and stay safe under the threat of COVID-19. Staying in a car was what she came up with.
“It was a whole exercise of allowing kids to make signs where they could have their voices heard,” she said. “You stick them on the car, yell to your friends. You don’t feel you are by yourself. Kids definitely got to make their voices heard. It’s the first step to take some sort of action. They see what is happening in the world, and they want to play a part.”
Crawford hopes that this first step by children will lead to more action.
She and Linch were moved by the honking of others as they passed, people pumping their fists in the air.
“There were moments of solidarity when we drove past the school,” Crawford said. She drove in the car with her husband and her two sons, ages 8 and 11; Linch drove with her husband and three boys, ages 9, 7, and 4.
Both women had individual talks with each child, tailoring them to the child’s age.
Crawford, who is African-American, said that her 8-year-old son had just interviewed his grandmother about integration, and how people protested then. “He was so hurt by what he was seeing on the news,” Crawford said. “He said, ‘Nana protested and we still have to protest?’ He had a lot of anger. He kept asking why. He said, ‘How come they are protesting in this state and this state and we’re not doing anything here?’”
Montclair resident Ari Laura Kreith, director of Luna Stage, drove in the caravan with her husband, her 11-year-old son, her 13-year-old daughter, and her Australian shepherd.
“The moment that made me cry was there was an older black woman standing on the street corner, and weeping, and shouting ‘Thank you!’ to every car as we drove past,” she said.
GLEN RIDGE VIGIL AND MARCH
A vigil was held in Glen Ridge on Sunday, May 31. Vanguard Theater Co. Managing Director Jessica Sporn and daughter Samy Cordero of Montclair attended.
“People were standing six feet apart,” Sporn said. “It was done in conjunction with the Glen Ridge Police Department.
“The first speaker was the chief of police from Glen Ridge. I felt like maybe that wasn’t the moment to have the police be the first speaker.”
Some people left and went to a private home on Ridgewood Avenue in Glen Ridge. An impromptu march began. People were going to sit on a porch and listen to James Baldwin speeches, said a 19-year-old Montclair High School graduate who attended.
Then people spread out to the sidewalks, and the group began marching. As police blocked certain streets, the march snaked around Glen Ridge.
Some members of the Glen Ridge Facebook group GRUPE (Glen Ridge Unofficial Page for Everyone) feel that the march expressed overly aggressive anti-police sentiment. The MHS graduate who marched hope their message won’t be lost.
ASBURY PARK AND NEWARK
Cathy Renna, a communications consultant from Montclair who focuses on LGBTQ issues, went on Saturday to the protest in Newark, and on Monday to a protest in Asbury Park.
“Both were huge,” Renna said. She was not surprised by the crowd that she estimated at about 8,000 in Newark, but the crowd of about 4,000 in Asbury Park did surprise her. Renna has been to Pride parades in Asbury Park, and this was more than that, she said.
“They were powerful, cathartic, and important,” Renna said. “One of the most vital things we can do, whether part of the community or allies, is 'be visible.' Thousands of individuals are coming out not just in support of the African-American community but against racism, rejecting hate and police brutality.
“With the pandemic, the economy, and the current occupant of the White House, even more people are moved to participate because they realize how much is at stake.”
Renna tried hard to stay safe and social distance, but though nearly everyone she saw wore a mask, people did get close together when they pushed forward to hear speakers, and when they began to march.
Despite the violence covered by the media, Renna said what she saw was peaceful and compassionate. “I saw two young guys handing out water, both in case someone started throwing tear gas, and also because it was hot,” she said. “I got a bottle of water, thanked him, and said, ‘What organization are you with?’ He said ‘None, we just went to the bodega.’
“In Newark, the mayor spoke and marched. Folks were handing out masks and Purell. Someone was handing out American flags, copies of the Constitution, and pins that said Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ Lives Matter, Womens’ Lives Matter. There was a real sense of community.”
Renna also saw a new version of the rainbow flag, with added brown and black stripes to be more inclusive.
There was a powerful moment at the end of the Asbury Park event, before the crowd started the spontaneous march, she said: “The speaker asked all of us to take a knee, and we all did, at the same time.”