After days of promoting a protest to call for the reinstatement of former Jersey City Rec Director Ryan Strother prior to last night’s Jersey City Council meeting, only a handful of residents ended up joining the cause.
Led by Carolyn Oliver-Fair, President of the North Jersey chapter of Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, a handful of protesters chanted “We Want Justice” for the reinstatement of ex-rec director Ryan Strother in front of City Hall, although most of the supporters left before addressing the council.
“This is just a rouse to get rid of another black man,” stated Fair.
“Steve ran on the premise of the tale of two cities and he was going to unite it, and all he has done is exacerbate that very same thing – a tale of two cities and everything with a negative connotation is thrown in Ward F. And to just wrongfully terminate Ryan Strother, we are not standing for it.”
Strother was terminated for allegedly hiring a registered sex offender and not taking timely action to let go of the employee. Fulop’s administration has previously denied that the firing had anything to do with race.
Currently, Rev. Reginald McRae is acting recreation director.
With the hopes of reinstating Strother, Fair and a small group of protestors planned to address the council, since the governing body is capable of giving Strother his old job back. However, the protest took a different turn during the council meeting.
Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro addressed the supporters of Strother, who grew impatient with the juggling of agenda items during the meeting.
“So the normal proceedings are that we do first reading ordinances, second reading ordinances and then we have public speaking and then we have our resolutions,” stated Lavarro.
He then explained that some items were moved up “with the understanding that the people that are speaking on behalf of the ordinances, rather than have multiple speakers, that they only have 1 speaker come up on behalf of the entire group.”
He then offered the same sentiment to the supporters of Strother and said they can have one speaker address the council immediately or the group can wait after the second reading.
There were mixed reactions, as some were frustrated with the one speaker option and others could no longer wait because they were there with their children who had school the next morning.
”We are not an organization, those people that spoke was an organization” said Jersey City Resident Tanika Jackson.
“We are asking you to have respect for us as your constituents, to move this up on the ballot because we need to go home and take care of your children who have school tomorrow.
“Ms. Jackson, this our normal procedure,” replied Lavarro.
“But that’s why we have amendments and we can change things,” rebutted Jackson, “We are hear as people that want to be heard.”
The supporters of Strother slowly emptied the room midway through the second reading of ordinances.