In Oaklyn, New Jersey, a huge sign reading “ALL LIVES MATTER God Bless & Protect Our Police Officers” has hung over the front side of Lakeview Custom Coach since July. Anti-racist residents of the area have been mobilizing regular protests in response to express their rejection of the owner’s message and support of the Black lives matter movement
It’s a recycled banner that made its first public appearance in 2015 following the rebellion in Ferguson in response to the killing of Michael Brown Jr. Now five years later, upon national reckoning with the murders of Black Americans like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor the owner, Pete Corelli, has chosen to reintroduce the banner which obstructs nearly the entire storefront.
“When the looting and burning stops, I’ll take the sign down,” said Corelli in a recent FOX29 interview. Demonstrations in New Jersey have been overwhelmingly peaceful. No such looting or burning has been reported in Oaklyn.
Corelli contends that the hanging of the sign has nothing to do with race. But local activists disagree. “We know that all lives matter, but right now Black lives are in danger,” said Tim Stokes of the Philadelphia/South Jersey/Delaware Activism Network (also known as PhillyMetroAct). The group operates within the tri-state area with an emphasis on event planning and fundraising. The network exists to promote “a free flow of ideas, and support for a variety of causes,” said group founder Allison Bolomey.
October 12 will mark the 13th straight sidewalk protest by activists and residents who have gathered on the opposite side of White Horse Pike. They have congregated weekly with signs and megaphones chanting “Black Lives Matter.” “We have people of all color supporting. It shows other people how a community can come together peacefully,” said Stokes.
The coming protest will lead up to Corelli’s court date on Oct. 14. The 18-by-75 foot banner is in violation of multiple ordinances in the town, and the business has been cited. Protestors will wait anxiously as the process advances. But in the meantime, so long as the sign stays up, they will keep coming back every Monday night.