Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Frustrations Still Rising in Paterson despite Rally Delay

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Frustrations Still Rising in Paterson despite Rally Delay

Article excerpt

African-American men talked about their fears of being pulled over by police while driving in the suburbs. Mothers expressed worry over their children. And many said they are frustrated by seeing the same images on TV over and over of black men dying in encounters with police.

They were among about 30 people at an impromptu gathering at Paterson's Eastside Park on Friday night after a planned larger protest against police brutality was postponed because of rain. The protest was rescheduled for Sunday at 6 p.m. in the park, according to Zellie Imani, a Black Lives Matter activist who said he was helping to organize it.

News of Friday's protest had been spread by social media and word of mouth and came amid a heated debate fueled by recent fatal shootings of black men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota and the killing of five police officers in Dallas on Thursday night by a lone gunman at the end of a Black Lives Matter protest.

In that highly charged atmosphere, as protests were held across the nation, Paterson protest organizers shared a report spreading on social media Friday alleging some people were urging others to bring bottles and other weapons to their rally. Imani said he does not believe such fears were real.

"I looked on social media, and I didn't see any mention of violence," he said.

People sent out social media messages about the protest during the course of the day, saying they were anticipating it to be peaceful, but also expressing concerns in the aftermath of Dallas. "Don't let today's protest be like the one in Dallas last night. Let's protest in peace," one person said on Twitter. Another asked for God to watch over Paterson during the protest.

Imani said the spread of rumors about violence might be used to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement -- just as some people on Friday were attempting to use the actions of a lone gunman in Dallas to disparage it.

On Friday, the assembled crowd stood under the cover of a pavilion as it began to rain. …

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