MORRIS COUNTY — A new group took to the streets on Sunday in protest of continued and additional restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. Over 100 members of a newly formed group, We The People NJ, opposed to what it calls an unconstitutional coronavirus crackdown held their first event on Sunday, with a mile-long march and demonstration starting at Morris Township Municipal Complex and ending at Morristown Town Hall.
According to a spokesperson for the group, the march is planned to get the attention of Governor Phil Murphy and express to him that NJ residents can’t withstand another lockdown. The group stands for personal choice in regard to personal protection which includes the constitutional rights of going to work and to school. They also acknowledge and respect the constitutional rights of some people who wish to stay home and protect themselves from health risks The intention of the group is to demand that everyone’s personal choice is protected.
The group gathered at Morris Township Municipal Complex at 10:00 a.m. and marched west on Route 124 escorted by police for a rally at Morristown Town Hall. A series of speakers blasted measures imposed by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy intended to curb the spread of the surging virus, which Sunday’s opponents said violated constitutional rights and hurt businesses, sometimes needlessly.
“The message is that we want to take responsibility for ourselves at this point,” said Heather Darling, a small business owner in Morris County and spokesperson for the group. “They feel that personal responsibility has been usurped far too long by these executive orders that have continued for the better part of a year for this point.” In November alone, executive orders from Murphy have restricted bars and restaurants from serving customers indoors past 10:00 p.m., permitted counties and towns to set an 8:00 p.m. curfew on nonessential businesses, and reduced indoor and outdoor gathering limits. Permitted indoor capacity for dining establishments, meanwhile, remains at 25%. “If I have a business and I want to open my business, and you want to come to my business, why should we not be able to transact?” Darling said.
Darling said the group suggests there’s no need for an additional lockdown in the face of surging COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations — instead, those most at risk can take the necessary precautions and it can be business as normal for healthy individuals.
“Shutting down would be the most irresponsible thing for all of us,” Cain Pope, 28, of Roxbury, a manager at the local Fuddruckers and a We the People NJ volunteer, told the crowd.
“Are we going to let him do this to us?” Pope said to the crowd. “No!” the crowd roared back at him.”
Roxbury High School senior headed for the U.S. Army, 18-year-old Jacob Almakias, told the crowd that “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is not a partisan issue.”
Ray Tahan, 72, Roxbury, told the crowd that a restaurant in his community was ordered shut down because one of its employees had tested positive for the coronavirus. “The employee who tested positive was not even sick,” Tahan told the crowd, which let out a collective groan. “This is what Governor Murphy is doing.”
Murphy again extended the state of emergency he first imposed in March, under which he has issued a series of executive orders limiting hours of business and other behavior in the name of health and safety. And it’s been six days since Murphy announced that maximums for gatherings of people were being reduced to 10 indoors, from 25, and 150 for outside gatherings, down from 500. (Click here for a related article).
Click here to view the Channel 4 News video.