The mayor and police chief of the South Jersey town called it “revolting”
By NBC10 Staff and Cydney Long
A group of white men seen mocking George Floyd’s death as Black Lives Matter protesters passed by included a corrections officer in South Jersey, officials confirmed to NBC10.
A man – whose identity has not been verified – was seen kneeling on another man laying down along Delsea Drive as a group marched past in Franklin Township on Monday. Another man with the group filmed the others.
The NJ Department of Corrections said in a statement that one of the men involved was a corrections officer at Bayside State Prison.
“We have been made aware that one of our officers from Bayside State Prison participated in the filming of a hateful and disappointing video that mocked the killing of George Floyd,” an NJ Department of Corrections statement said. That person, who the statement did not identify, has been suspended and banned while the agency investigates.
FedEx told Memphis, Tennessee, NBC affiliate WMC-TV late Tuesday that another person involved in the counter protest is no longer employed by the logistics company. FedEx said “we do not tolerate the kind of appalling and offensive behavior depicted in this video.”
NBC10 later learned the man kneeling is a FedEx employee, and the NJ corrections officer was off to the side filming.
The display sent shocked reactions through the crowd and on social media as clips racked up thousands of views.
The protesters, who had notified police of their route and were flanked by police SUVs, were moving down Delsea Drive when they passed a firewood business along the route, protesters told NBC10 and documented in social media videos.
The videos showed a group with Trump 2020 flags and a “thin blue line” flag, along with an “all lives matter” sign. You could hear shocked reactions as one man, whom NBC10 could not definitively identify, knelt on another man who lay face-down on the ground. The man kneeling was also seen shouting at the protesters.
“It automatically brought me to tears,” organizer Daryan Fennal of Franklinville said.
“The display yesterday showed me that racism is real, racism is alive, it’s right next door to you.”
A joint statement from Mayor John Bruno and Police Chief Brian Zimmer said they were “appalled and saddened by the revolting actions of certain individuals.”
“Without an understanding and mutual respect for all individuals, we can never aspire to create a united community based upon the idea of human respect and dignity for all,” the statement read.
Gov. Phil Murphy condemned the stunt Tuesday night on Twitter, saying the state won’t “let the actions of a few distract from our progress toward dismantling systemic racism.”
Mocking George Floyd’s murder in effort to belittle the calls for justice from our Black and Brown communities is repugnant. I condemn this behavior in the strongest terms possible.
We won’t let the actions of a few distract from our progress toward dismantling systemic racism. https://t.co/Rb1RUsST5I
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) June 10, 2020
“Mocking George Floyd’s murder in effort to belittle the calls for justice from our Black and Brown communities is repugnant,” Murphy tweeted.
The police are investigating the incident but no charges have been filed. NBC10 also called multiple phone numbers listed for the property where the incident occurred, and did not receive a response.
A smaller group of demonstrators turned out in protest Tuesday, and another peaceful protest is planned for Saturday.
This article originally appeared in NBC10 News.