Protest didn’t shut Atlantic City but it did end with organizer’s arrest
ATLANTIC CITY — A Black Lives Matter protest on the Fourth of July did not shut down this Jersey Shore resort city as some had threatened or feared, but it did end with the arrest of the protest's organizer.
Steve Young, a Planning Board member and city activist, was among seven men arrested Saturday on charges of obstructing a highway and refusal to obey a reasonable official request.
The 60-year-old official sparked the ire of Mayor Marty Small Sr. when he threatened to have the demonstration "shut Atlantic City down" in support of "justice for George Floyd, others and against systemic racism."
Small said he supported protesters but said that interfering with commerce would not be tolerated.
"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," he said.
The Press of Atlantic City reported that "hundreds" of people participated in Saturday's march and demonstration, which began at the Clayton G. Graham Public Safety Building.
The protesters blocked traffic at the Peter Egnor Bridge on Albany Avenue before police got them to move.
Protesters then went on to block traffic on the eastbound lanes of the Atlantic City Expressway. Police said the crowd moved on after officers arrested seven people, including Young.
“The Atlantic City Police Department and our law enforcement partners have been preparing for this protest due to threats made by organizers,” Police Chief Henry M. White Jr. said in a written statement. “While we respect and support those that exercise their First Amendment rights, we will not allow a major roadway to be blocked cutting off access for our community members, emergency personnel, or visitors to the City of Atlantic City. We are grateful that the Atlantic City community did not participate in this misguided attempt to shut down the city.”
Officials said that police walked with protesters and helped them with diverting traffic when necessary.
Also arrested and released:
- Levar Davis, 21, of Atlantic City
- Alex Kettles, 52, of Burlington
- Nolan Mitchell, 45, of Atlantic City
- Troy Ogelsby Sr., 57, of Cherry Hill
- Michael Scott Jr., 45, of Atlantic City
- Taiwa Ukawabutu, 55, of Pleasantville
- Steven Young, 60, of Atlantic City
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.