Hundreds Take Stand Against Racism At Moorestown Protest

Their goal: raise awareness in a predominantly white town of the police brutality and racial inequality minorities and people of color face in the United States.

MOORESTOWN — Chants of “George Floyd,” “No justice, no peace” and “Black Lives Matter” rang out along Main Street. Signs were held high, and waves of people stood shoulder to shoulder, in step with each other.

Hundreds, if not more than 1,000, marched through Moorestown on Tuesday in a peaceful protest of the police brutality that led to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The march, and rally on the lawn of the Moorestown Recreation Cente that followed, was organized by two Moorestown High School graduates, Jasmine Cartwright-Atkins, 20, and Jessica Garcia, 19.

Their goal: raise awareness in a predominantly white town of the police brutality and racial inequality minorities and people of color face in the United States.

“A lot of people are not aware, and if they are aware, they’re not doing anything about it,” Cartwright-Atkins said before the march. “Our idea here is to come united, to come together, to bring awareness to a situation that is important and that is affecting a lot of people right now.”

The death of Floyd last week has not only sparked both outrage and peaceful protests, but also looting, rioting and fires in major cities across the nation, including Philadelphia.

In addition to the large crowd, the march also drew elected officials such as state Sen. Troy Singleton and U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, who lives in Moorestown.

It also drew concern from some residents, who posted their worries on social media that the march could get out of control.

When the large crowd arrived back at the Moorestown Recreation building after marching up Church Street, then down Main Street to Chester Avenue and back, both Cartwright-Atkins and Mayor Nicole Gillespie, who joined the marched, addressed the worries.

“I heard a lot of negativity, and a lot of thinking that this was not going to work,” Cartwright-Atkins said, choking back tears. “Thinking that we couldn’t be peaceful, couldn’t be loving. And we did that.”

“There was fear in our community that things might go wrong. As best as I can tell, this has been absolutely peaceful,” Gillespie said.

Residents and business owners along the route admitted they were worried when they heard a protest was coming to town. Many came outside to watch, but none choose to board up homes or businesses.

One resident, wearing a black T-shirt that said “Security,” stood on the stoop outside of his East Main Street apartment, saying was keeping watch over his building and the restaurant next door, just to be safe.

He said despite his shirt, he was not a hired security officer. “But you saw what happened in Philly, what happened in Atlantic City,” the man said.

Toni Farmer was sitting on her porch making Black Lives Matter signs with a friend. They planned to hand the signs out to protesters as Farmer said she believes in the message of rooting out systemic racism, and that she acknowledges her white privilege.

But she also said that she was worried about potential damage. Worried, but not afraid, she added. “It’s helpful to have something concrete to do,” said Farmer’s friend, as they stuck poles through the BLM signs.

After the march, the protesters gathered at the lawn of the Moorestown Recreation building to listen first to elected officials, then whoever wanted to speak could come up and speak their mind.

Kim and Singleton said they were encouraged by the number of young people who showed up and shared their voice.

“We have run out of patience and this is about finding that change now,” Kim said. “Your energy gives me energy, and your energy gives our country energy.”

Rabia Zaman, 18, called the march beautiful.

“Moorestown hasn’t always been the most peaceful place with racisim,” Zaman said while marching. “But I think this is great, and its going to show everyone here that the new generation isn’t going to sit down and let all of this happen. We’re going to fight back.”

“I’m proud to be black and from Moorestown,” said Ashleigh Cartwright, 24. “I never thought I would say that before.”

Following the speakers at the rally, there was 8 minutes, 46 seconds of silence, the length of time the Minneapolis police officer held his knee on George Floyd’s neck.

The rally winded down peacefully, except for a brief moment when a heckler began shouting about coronavirus being more important than Black Lives Matter.

The heckler was confronted by Kim until police arrived, who asked the man to leave. Police arrived quickly to resolve the incident.

Original Article