Since Gov. Phil Murphy proudly protested at Black Lives Matter events in Hillside and Westfield, he’s got some ‘splaining to do: Specifically, why shouldn't a business owner have charges for violating Murphy’s executive order dropped?

The man, from the district of state Sen. Anthony Bucco and Assemblywoman Aura Dunn, was a lock-down protester who received summonses from the State of New Jersey with fines up to $2,000 and the potential for one-year imprisonment for protesting the draconian business shut down in the state. The obvious question is: Why is it OK for some people to protest (namely, the Governor himself) but not OK for others?

Bucco and Dunn are urging the governor to drop the charges against the business owner because there cannot be a different set of rules for Black Lives Matter protesters than there are for other protesters. Several organizers of protests of the COVID-19 shutdown were cited and summonses over the last few months, while none protesting the murder of George Floyd received any punitive action whatsoever. Who’s to say which issue justifies peaceful protesting and which does not? Who decides which issue justifies violating an executive order and which does not?

While it’s obvious that he who holds the most power wins, is it not an abuse of such power to hold oneself to a different standard because one is in charge? Dunn, in an article on newjerseyglobe.com, said, “Clearly, while businesses are penalized with crushing fines and threats of imprisonment for holding a commonsense rally against the governor’s policies, he ignores his own standards when it’s in his political interest to do so." Dunn continues, “That is fundamentally unfair and likely unconstitutional.”

Unfair and unconstitutional, indeed. The moment Murphy stood shoulder to shoulder with other protesters, he sent a signal that his executive order’s social distancing rules and crowd size restrictions were only suggestions, not orders. And that in the event of passionate and highly charged disagreements between civilians and government entities, all bets are off and rules can be bent. If it’s true for the governors it needs to be true for everyone. So I stand in agreement with Bucco and Dunn, who are on the side of what is fair and what is constitutional: All charges against all New Jersey protesters — regardless of the subject of the protest — should be dropped immediately.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.

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