WYCKOFF — After a small group of demonstrators refused to leave a driveway outside the Bergen County home of U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) on Monday afternoon, 12 of them were arrested, police said.

Out of a dozen people arrested, just two were from New Jersey, according to Wyckoff police.

Beth Keenan, 21, of Robbinsville, and Richard Avvenire, 24, of East Brunswick, each were charged with criminal trespass.

At least some of the protesters were affiliated with Sunrise Bergen, a progressive youth movement activist group that started in August 2020, based on the signs being held as seen in photos from Monday.

“We are currently focusing our attention on Rep. Gottheimer and the Bergen County Commissioners as we feel that, right now, neither have taken sufficient action on the climate crisis,” according to the organization’s website.

Gottheimer has voiced support for both the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better reconciliation package — which includes tax credits and grants for businesses and communities working towards clean energy initiatives.

“The stakes have never been higher in our fight to combat climate change. To protect our planet, we must pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill & a smartly targeted Build Back Better package,” the Democrat tweeted on Tuesday.

Wyckoff protesters (courtesy Boyd A. Loving)
Wyckoff protesters (courtesy Boyd A. Loving)

A group of about 40 people arrived at Russell Farms Park for a planned demonstration Monday, police said, and then walked to a nearby residential neighborhood.

They were advised to not block any roadways or enter any private property, according to police, but the handful that stepped into a driveway and refused to leave were eventually arrested.

Several neighboring police departments also responded to Monday’s protest, along with officers from the Bergen County Sheriff's Office.

The other individuals arrested on Monday range in age from 18 to 37; six are residents of Pennsylvania, three are from New York City, and one is a Michigan resident.

Each of them also is faced with criminal trespass, after police said the 12 people ignored several warnings from law enforcement, as well as attempts to de-escalate the situation.

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