Toms River, Ocean City prepare for George Floyd protest marches
Toms River and Ocean City are bracing for possible marches Tuesday as demonstrations continue nationwide — sparked by the death of George Floyd while restrained, unarmed and handcuffed, with his neck under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.
Local law enforcement is preparing for the possibility the marches will turn violent but stressing only peaceful events are known to be planned. Most in New Jersey have been peaceful.
But protests on Sunday in Atlantic City and Trenton that started peacefully turned violent in the evening when looters smashed storefront windows and torched police vehicles. A protest Monday in Asbury Park that started peacefully led to 12 arrests, including those of including two juveniles, when crowds refused to disperse after an 8 p.m. curfew, Asbury Park Police told the Asbury Park Press. Among those arrested was an APP reporter who'd been live-streaming the protests, even though credentialed media members were exempt from the curfew.
Protests in Franklin (Somerset), Long Branch and Rahway took place Sunday without incident.
Toms River Police say a march on Tuesday is anticipated to make its way into downtown Toms River from Kohl’s at the Toms River Center shopping center on Route 37 at Route 166 (Washington Street).
Two downtown businesses and one at the shopping center boarded up their front windows in anticipation of problems during the march. Parking meters were covered throughout the downtown area.
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said his office is aware of social media rumors the event will turn violent but said in a statement “there is no evidence at this time to support those rumors.”
“We are expecting a peaceful protest/gathering tomorrow June 2, 2020, in Toms River," We stand in solidarity with those that wish to protest peacefully," Billhimer said, adding that they will be ready for "any situation that may arise.”
Toms River Police said in a statement they are "preparing for potential gatherings and to handle any situation that may arise. It is our priority to maintain the safety of our entire community while allowing a peaceful demonstration."
Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian issued a statement on the city website about a possible Black Lives Matter protest on Tuesday and said he is “coordinating with several other agencies and preparing for any potential situation."
A post on social media indicated the march would start at the end of the 9th Street Bridge, according to the Patch of Ocean City.
A start time for the respective marches was not given for either location.
Assemblyman Jamel Holley said a peaceful demonstration is scheduled for Tuesday with protesters in their cars driving on Woodbridge Avenue from the border with Edison to the Raritan Bridge.
“The demonstration will be focused on ensuring that George Floyd and all people of color receive fair justice. We will have handout sheets and booklets on action steps that will force the hand of local and statewide officials to prosecute all officers involved in the demise of George Floyd," organizer Ashton Burrell said.
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