A woman was charged for organizing a protest against New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s stay-at-home order as authorities in the state continued aggressively acting against people allegedly violating the mandate.
Kim Pagan, a Toms River resident, was charged by state police with violating emergency orders “by organizing a prohibited event today in Trenton in which protesters gathered outside the State House and at other locations in Trenton to demonstrate against the governor’s Executive Orders,” according to a joint statement from state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and Col. Patrick Callahan, superintendent of the state police.
“If you think emergency orders are more like guidelines than actual rules, think again,” Grewal said in a statement. “I know social distancing isn’t exactly enjoyable, but now’s not the time for fun and games. Please stay home and stay safe.”
Video footage shared on Facebook showed a small protest in Trenton. As a police officer not wearing gloves or a mask wrote tickets for protesters in and near their vehicles, the group shouted at him that he was violating their First Amendment rights.
One car had the word “playdemic” emblazoned on a window in apparent reference to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The protesters were not wearing masks or gloves either. Another video on Facebook, filmed by certified health coach Stephanie Locricchio, lasted about an hour. A third video, from New Jersey 101.5, showed about two dozen cars lined up outside the statehouse and some people outside of vehicles holding up signs.
“Open the door, governor!” one demonstrator said. “No more fear!”
People in violation of Murphy’s emergency orders face a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in prison.
Murphy addressed New Jersey residents at a press conference Friday, saying: “I know it’s hard. I know it’s not fun. I know it’s going to be for a few more weeks at least.”
“If you want to be mad at me or find someone to blame, go ahead, it’s on me. But my number one goal, my entire focus, is on defeating this virus and getting our state back to where we can responsibly reopen it,” he added, speaking at a daily CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus briefing.
New Jersey had 78,467 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease the virus cases, as of Friday, as well as 3,840 deaths.
Another protest planned for April 28 at the Trenton War Memorial saw its Facebook page shut down for allegedly violating the social media platform’s rules.
Organizer Angela DeVoe, a Forked River resident, told the Save Jersey blog that she still plans to hold the rally.
“We would like the governor to recognize that most of us can return safely to work by May 1, 2020,” said DeVoe. “Small businesses should be open and allowed to operate immediately. The parks and beaches shall resume operation. We should be able as Americans to make choices for ourselves and our families that best coincide with our individual needs.”
Protesters aren’t deterred by the punishment threatened by law enforcement, DeVoe added.
“Most of those planning to attend believe that standing up for our freedoms and for those most affected by the shut down is more important,” she said.