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Many Montgomery People among the Thousands at Princeton Rally for Justice

"It's time for a change, and I want to be a part of it."

— Chilly Wallace, 18, of Montgomery Township

Sarina Swain, a 2019 graduate of Montgomery High School, leads the crowd in a chant at the rally in Princeton on June 2.

Montgomery Township resident Zelda Wallace, an educator and mother of five, was one of thousands of people who peacefully assembled in downtown Princeton on Tuesday, June 2.

“I am here because it is important," Wallace said. "I haven’t ever participated in a protest for social justice or racial equality. But, I could no longer sit on the couch. I felt compelled to do something and hopefully impact change: change of laws, change of policies. And while I recognize my limited capacity to change individuals’ mindsets, I think gathering in these large groups will help to at least activate that process, and get people to think about finding another way."

Beverly Mack of Westfield; Zelda Wallace of Montgomery Township and a mother of five with her daughter Chilly Wallace, 18, a 2019 graduate of Montgomery HIgh School and a rising sophomore at Oberlin College in Ohio. She is studying pre-med biology. Photo by Barbara A. Preston.

The Coalition for Peace Action hosted Kneeling for Justice, a peaceful protest and family day of action from 5 pm to 6:30 pm in honor of George Floyd and in solidarity with Black lives. Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on the neck of a subdued and handcuffed Floyd for nearly nine minutes. The officer is charged with third-degree murder. Many are pressuring the prosector to charge all four officers involved with murder, and for Chauvin's charge to be upgraded to the first degree.

Montgomery High School Class of 2019 Graduates: Rachel Dentler, Adam Espejo, Sean Glennon, Jessie Smires, and Anna O'Farrel. Photo by Abby Meola.

Zelda's friend Beverly Mack says: “It is incumbent upon those of us who are older to be an inspiration for those generations behind us, and, to stand up and be an example — Ensure there is a reason for them to look up to you."

Chilly Wallace, 18, attended the rally with her mother, Zelda.

Chilly Wallace and Sarina Swain, both 2019 graduates of Montgomery High School.

“This is something I’m very passionate about," Chilly said. "Throughout high school, something like this would happen and there would be a tiny little protest and things would die down. But, now, I think it’s definitely a time for change and it’s something I want to be a part of. I want to be able to say what I did during this time period."

Chilly says she watched the nine-minute video of the Minneapolis police officer killing George Floyd with a knee to the neck. She says she had to stop it a few times because "I could not just watch it through. It makes you sick just to watch it."

"This is something we’ve been dealing with literally for 400 years — since that first slave ship came here," Chilly said.

Montgomery resident Jess Lubitz at the Princeton protest. Photo by Abby Meola.

Chilly attended the Trenton protest on Sunday, May 31, too. At first, she said, she was a worried about what could happen with thousands of people outside the State House. But, after seeing that the Newark and Camden protests were peaceful, she says she knew the Trenton protest was going to be peaceful.

"It was beautiful to be able to see the Trenton police to take a knee with us, and to protest with us," Chilly said. "No one was fearful. There was no need to worry. You knew what to expect."

Princeton police in riot gear on Witherspoon Street who parted the crowd to help a protestor who fainted. Photo by Barbara A. Preston.

Someone threw a water bottle at the Trenton police on Sunday. The protestors actually protected the police and warned the bottle thrower, saying "No. Not in Trenton. Not here."

The agitators do not appear to actually be a part of the protests, Chilly said. They are trying to stir up something. Unfortunately, two hours after Trenton protestors marched from the State House to Trenton City Hall, and back again, violence and looting did erupt in Trenton. But, it seemed it was a different group of people.

Joshua D’Ambrogia, 16, of Princeton and Calvin Urbanski, 17, a junior at Montgomery High School. Photo by Barbara A. Preston.

"They are not part of the cause," Chilly said. "These are people who are traveling to Minneapolis to Atlanta and other places just to loot and cause destruction. And there are even videos of police doing the destruction themselves. I think it is to put the protesters in a negative light."

Montgomery High School junior Calvin Urbanski attended the Princeton rally with his skateboard, which he turned into a protest sign.

“I’m here to protest for black rights," Urbanski said. "I feel it’s terrible to see stuff in the news about innocent black people being killed. All this police brutality that’s going on is sickening."

The Statue of Liberty at the Princeton protest. Photo by Barbara A. Preston.

Urbanski says he saw the video. “I just cannot believe things like this are actually happening in this country. One of the more shocking things about it is that these things have been going on for years. Cell phones just make it more visible to the public."

"I’ve been seeing a lot of articles about people robbing small businesses," he adds. "It's not good. It’s not really necessary. But, from what we’ve seen, all this violence and looting may be the only way the government will do something about racial injustice."

"I’m a little worried about being here today," he said. "I was a little nervous driving here today."

His friend Joshua D’Ambrogia, 16, admitted he was worried a bit too. “But, I feel this is more important. It’s taking a risk for something that is a lot bigger than us. This is important.”

Princeton police monitored the protestors from rooftops. Photo by Barbara A. Preston.

A woman broke into tears while thousands of protestors took a knee in honor of George Floyd for eight minutes and 43 seconds — the amount of time a police officer had his knee on the neck of George Floyd. Photo by Barbara A. Preston.


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