NEWARK, N.J. — Protestors in Newark marched with fresh produce from urban farms in the area, handing out food, diapers and clean drinking water Friday.
The protest was organized by the Newark Water Coalition, which has fought the City of Newark over high levels of lead in the drinking water.
The city has since replaced thousands of lead service lines.
Today, protesters marched to defund the police. They are pushing for public safety monies to be reinvested into schools, healthcare, housing and clean drinking water infrastructure.
“Number one, defund the police. Number two, give people the resources that they need,” said Sabre Bee, a Newark resident and co-founder of the Newark Water Coalition.
Those marching said public safety is needed, but the institution of policing needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.
This week, Newark’s city council passed an ordinance that would take at least 5% of Newark’s public safety budget and put it towards an office of violence prevention.
A city ordinance will also close the 1st Precinct by the end of next year to create a museum. The 1st Precinct is where the 1967 riots began.
“We’re not saying public safety isn’t needed. Because obviously it is,” Thanelie Bien-Aine, a protestor. “But it’s like the systems that we have right now, the criminal justice systems we have right now isn’t it.”
But there was another group in the crowd — ahead of the march — that stopped protesters from moving forward and argued with them over city politics and progress.
“Don’t come to our city, bringing all these people to our city and then lie!” said Rev. Louise Scott-Rountree, an aide to Mayor Ras Baraka for Clergy Affairs.
Newark’s Mayor has called defunding the police a ‘knee jerk reaction’. He has publicly agreed on the need for reforms but stated to get rid of police would leave residents without someone to call when face with violence or domestic abuse.
Correction: This report initially included an inaccurate description of the Newark Water Coalition’s response to high levels of lead found in local drinking water. It has since been updated.