Newark protesters should get tested for coronavirus, mayor says

Posted Jun 02, 2020

Anyone who participated in Saturday’s police brutality protests in Newark should be tested for COVID-19 immediately, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said on Monday.

“If you were downtown at that protest in any capacity, whether you’re a cop, a civilian, whether you were cleaning up, whether you were helping out whether you were part of the clergy, whatever you were doing go get tested immediately,” Baraka said during a Facebook Live.

Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Newark on Sunday to rally against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands on police in Minnesota. Many protesters wore masks, but their numbers far exceeded Gov. Phil Murphy’s 25-person cap on outdoor gatherings.

Baraka said he was tested on Sunday, and was negative for the coronavirus. Free testing is available for all Newark residents.

“Do not assume you did not contract the virus down there with thousands of people in close proximity, go get tested. In fact, you should do that immediately because if you are positive you should stay home,” Baraka said.

Murphy said he supported the right to protest, while asking participants to wear masks and practice social distancing.

“I would say to anybody who goes out: You have the absolute right to go out and peacefully, rightfully protest,” Murphy said during a Monday afternoon press briefing. “But please, be smart about your health.”

Protests against police brutality are different from previous protests against coronavirus restrictions on businesses, Murphy said.

“I don’t want to make light of this, and I’ll probably get lit up by everybody who owns a nail salon in the state," Murphy said. “But it’s one thing to protest what day nail salons are opening. It’s another to come out in peaceful protest overwhelmingly about somebody who was murdered right before our eyes … and the trail of data points that highlights systemic racism and the stain that slavery still leaves in our country today. I put those into different orbits."

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