Several hundred gathered in Library Park in Asbury Park Fri., June 5 to show their support for peaceful protest and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The march was organized by PEACEBYU, a group of college students dedicated to Peace, Love and Positivity.
Mayor John Moor said he had met with the group, founded by Scottie Lewis, earlier in the week and was confident that they would hold a peaceful event.
“They did everything we asked them to do. They moved the time, they moved it to Library Park and they shortened the route..they are sweethearts,” he said. “These people are the salt of the earth.”
Moor said although he was happy to host this march Asbury Park has done its part and it’s time for other towns to open their streets to marches and rallies.
“Take it to Wall Township or other communities that have not done their part,” he said.
Asbury Park Pastor Lyddale Akins attended and asked everyone to kneel for a prayer, before the walk began proclaiming, “We are the human race”
Several city police officers attended along with Police Chief David Kelso.
Several of the protesters held up home made signs reading “Silence is Compliance,” Black Lives Matter” and one calling for the defunding of police.
The phrase “defunding of police” calls for reform of police departments with more of an emphasis on community policing and social programs.
Lewis, a star basketball player for University of Florida, addressed the crowd at the park before the walk explaining, “Peace, love and positivity is our main goal and message.”
He thanked police and the city for allowing them to hold the march in Asbury Park.
The activist group is made up of high school and college basketball players.
Another member of the group said he was born and raised in Asbury Park and wants to spread PEACEBYU’S message to New Jersey and across America.
As they began the march Lewis, with a megaphone “united we stand, divided we fall” as the crowd chanted back.
As they walked up Asbury Ave. to Main Street he said “this is not a Republican or Democrat issue. It’s a right or wrong issue” as the crowd applauded.
As they walked to city hall, a driving rain fell and at city hall as the speakers continued many stood with umbrellas.
Organizers went through the names of those killed by police with the crowd chanting “Black Lives Matter.”