Police were called to Newark’s City Hall on Wednesday to break up a fight after demonstrators at a protest against violence in the city began to brawl.
A skirmish broke out between rival activists who disagreed over the city’s attempts to curb escalating violence.
In a joint press release, Salaam Ismial, co-char of the New Jersey Study Commission on Violence, and Abdul Muhammad, a prominent anti-violence activist in Newark, announced they would hold a joint press conference in front of City Hall to ask Mayor Ras Baraka to “unleash his quality of life plan in addressing ongoing violence facing Newark resident,” NJ.com reported.
As the press conference was taking place, a group of hecklers, supporting Mr. Baraka, began shouting from the base of the steps.
The confrontation soon escalated into a face-off between one of the hecklers, activist Donna Jackson, and Mr. Muhammad. Then members of the protest groups began to brawl.
At one point, one of the hecklers, Tyrone “Street Counsel” Barnes, placed his hands around Mr. Muhammad’s neck and pinned him to the ground, according to nj.com.
Organizers and witnesses said the fighting only lasted a few minutes and there were no serious injuries.
In an interview after the demonstration, Mr. Ismail said he hoped his group’s message would not be lost as a result of the fight. He added that the demonstration was not a direct protest of Mr. Baraka, but an attempt to urge the mayor to outline a plan for improvement.
“The mayor was one of them. He’s part of that community. He understands it, he understands the frustration,” he said, NJ.com reported.
“For all intents and purposes, this hurt the possibility that Newark can have in addressing this problem once and for all. Until there’s some sense of a unified front among the leaders, there’s never going to be an impact on the people at large.”
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