TRENTON, NJ – New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Monday compared the Black Lives Matters protests that caused violence in Trenton and Atlantic City to the plight of small business owners and gave a green light to huge civil rights protests statewide. In the past month, Murphy’s office has forced the arrests, charges and in some cases, business license revocations against small business owners violating his social distancing and gathering executive orders.
“I don’t want to make light of this and I’ll probably get lit up by everybody who owns a nail salon in the state,” Murphy said. “But it’s one thing to protest what day nail salons are opening, and it’s another to come out in peaceful protest, overwhelmingly, about somebody who was murdered right before our eyes, and is yet, if that weren’t enough, yet another data point of the trail of data points that highlights systemic racism and the stain that slavery still leaves in our country today. I put those into different orbits.”
Murphy said as long as thousands of protesters violating his social distancing orders wore PPE, he’s alright with it.
“I will say this, there were a lot of masks being worn, which is encouraging. And I would say to anybody who goes out, you have the absolute right to go out peacefully and rightfully protest, but please be smart about your health,” he said. “And I think, in some cases, masks, in fact, were distributed. I think, Matt, you said to me in Camden and Newark, I believe at least, and maybe others, masks were distributed. I’ll leave it, the decision to go out or not go out, as long as you do it responsibly, safely and peacefully that’s a decision I would say, in this particular instance, I would leave to the individuals.”
Murphy continued to explain his views that vandalism in Atlantic City and Trenton were not important because the losses were only of material concern.
“I think of this less, and I’m not making light of so-called vandalism. I think of this, and this is a vast minority of actors, and a vast minority — I think we had 30. Of the 30 protests, Pat, 28 of them came off literally without incident,” he added. “I think I view those as attacks on our communities, and so it’s not just a window or it’s not just a door. A community is a living thing. People live there, they work there. They buy their groceries there, their neighbors are there. I think it’s a real, living reality. I view the attacks less of material concerns and I don’t make light of the material loss but more and frankly, in a bigger sense.”