Thousands of people converged on Hoboken this afternoon for one of the largest rallies Hudson County has seen in years to protest the death of George Floyd, systemic racism, police brutality, and more.
“We need to be collectively holding our government officials responsible and to create policies that hold police officers accountable for their actions,” began Keani Esparra, a member of Allies 4 Justice, the group that organized the rally.
“Hoboken: today we march and we disturb the peace for all the black people we’ve lost due to police brutality and racial injustice. These are your neighbors, they are your friends, they are your co-workers. When you march with us today, we need you, our allies, to incite change: we can’t do it alone.”
Black Men United Jersey City Founder Nevin Perkins also addressed the crowd, which quickly grew to over a thousand people, at Maxwell Place Park, urging them to take a knee – asking officers to participate only if they truly believed in the cause.
“We note interested in symbolic victories. If you’re taking a knee, take a knee in solidarity. if you’re taking a knee to conform: stay the f*** up,” he stated.
Perkins was one of the organizers of Monday’s peaceful protest in Greenville.
The group waited at Maxwell Park Place for about 30 minutes, welcoming other marching in from Hoboken Housing Authority buildings before heading down Sinatra Drive to Pier A Park.
Officials and organizers estimated that the rally may have had as many as 10,000 participants at it’s peak.
Chants such as “George Floyd,” “Black Lives Matter!,” and “Hand up! Don’t Shoot!” were consistent throughout the 20-minute or so trip to Pier A, where at least half of the crowd veered off to protest at the police station and then City Hall.
While there were a couple tense moments between a small numbers of protesters and some New Jersey State Police troopers standing behind a barricade in front of the Hoboken Police Station, there were no violent outbursts and therefore no arrests made.
Throughout the rally, officers here and there could be seen taking a knee with those protesting.
At Pier A Park, the group acknowledged many others who were killed by police, including Breonna Taylor: who was killed by officers in Louisville after they got into a shootout with her boyfriend.
Today would have been her 27th birthday, prompting a quick rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
Numerous speakers entered the circle to address the crowd, including Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Larry Hamm – a challenger to incumbent Cory Booker.
“Now is the time that we must confront all systems and all structures that has been holding in place racism. Racism, and oppression, and white supremacy, and I ask you to be here today not only for George Floyd, but be here today as part of a movement to build a new society in the United States!,” he said to loud applause.
Mayor Ravi Bhalla also led chants of “Black Lives Matter!,” “George Floyd!,” and “No Justice! No Peace!” before taking a knee with the crowd.
According to Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante, the three-plus hour event led to just one arrest: a simple assault incident where one protester punched the other in the face.
While the march made its way onto Washington Street at times, where some businesses had boarded up their storefronts earlier this week, no property was destroyed or even damaged.
The march from Maxwell Place Park to Pier A Park streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below:
News correspondent Corey McDonald contributed to this report.