Atlantic City mayor trying to stop protesters from ruining Fourth of July
ATLANTIC CITY — Visitors to casinos on the Fourth of July could encounter protesters at the end of the Atlantic City Expressway.
Activist and city Planning Board member Steve Young has promised a demonstration at the Clayton Graham Public Safety Building that would "shut Atlantic City down" in support of "justice for George Floyd, others and against systemic racism," Young told host Harry Hurley of New Jersey 101.5 sister station WPG TalkRadio.
Young told Hurley he could not promise the protest would be peaceful.
The Fourth of July weekend is key to a return to normal for Atlantic City following the coronavirus pandemic as casinos are able to open for the first time since being shut by Gov. Phil Murphy's executive order.
Mayor Marty Small, who is Black, said the city would not stop anyone's right to peacefully protest and said law enforcement is ready for whatever happens Saturday.
"When you are talking about a town that is hanging on by a thread, some businesses if they don't have a good summer will be gone forever," he said. "There are some businesses that are still as we speak unboarding their windows to open in hopes of a successful holiday weekend and you got someone for selfish reasons say they're gonna block the Expressway. We're not having that."
Police headquarters is five blocks to the west of the Atlantic City Expressway.
Small tried to contain the demonstration and called a meeting of the city's leaders at Young's request only to be told to leave the meeting by Young.
“I am not going to allow you to disrespect the Office of the Mayor. More importantly, I am not going to allow you to make a mockery of the great people of Atlantic City. That is not going to happen,” Small said afterward at a news conference.
Small said has started the process to remove Young from the Planning Board, to which Young was appointed by Small's predecessor.
No permit was issued for the protest but the protest will be allowed to happen, according to city solicitor Michael Perugini.
"However, if it does get out of hand we have to take the appropriate action," Perugini said.
The Pagans do not appear to be coming to the protest. An email to Hurley from the Pagan's Motorcycle Club said that the person who had called his show to claim that 300 club members would show up to support police was not a member of the club.
"We have NO intention of participating in any protest-related activity of any sort. We are a motorcycle Club. We ride. Plain and simple. We are NOT going to be in Atlantic City this weekend for any protest, or counter protest," the email said.
A protest by about 300 people on May 31 was peaceful for the most part but ended with damage and looting at 20 stores at the Tanger shopping outlets. Police reported 17 arrests.
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