Black Lives Matter: One Year of New Jersey Protests

May 25th, 2020 delivered an event that not only shocked the world, but tragically reminded U.S. citizens about the current state of Policing and how intertwined US history and racism are with it. New Jersey, although considered very diverse, has been dealing with it’s own racism from the colonial days and continues to this very day. The Black Lives Matter protests were a testament to that. Over the past year, hundreds of speeches were given regarding race and commonly highlighting personal incidents of racism that are simply not acceptable. This entire year of constant demonstrations has left a necessary reminder to the People of New Jersey that racism is very much alive in the state and will no longer be overlooked and tolerated.


This photo essay highlights some of the moments of the Black Lives Matter movement in New Jersey and it should be mentioned here because it was mentioned at each one of the events photographed below that…



“This is not a moment. This is a movement.”



A crowd of hundreds gathers outside the Hackensack Court house and takes a knee for George Floyd in response to his tragic murder by officer Derek Chauvin in Hackensack, New Jersey on June 6th, 2020. This protest was the first Black Lives Matter demonstration I documented. (Photo/Julian Leshay)



A demonstrator holds up a sign for 8 minutes and 46 seconds as they march throughout Hackensack. This is the exact time (before 9:29 came out in recent findings) Derek Chauvin has his knee on George Floyd’s neck in Hackensack, New Jersey on June 6th, 2020.



A Black Lives Matter rally stands outside the Ridgefield Park municipal building that is connected to the RP Police Department two weeks after George Floyd was murdered and the video footage went viral. This protest was amongst many others during statewide demonstrations on June 8th, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)



People watch a Black Lives Matter protest from inside the Ridgefield Park Municipal building as they protest the Police only weeks after George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, MN. This demonstration was in Ridgefield Park, NJ on June 8th, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




A small crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters march throughout Ridgefield Park streets shouting BLM related chants during one of the weekly Saturday protests held by community organizer Paul B. Jr.. This protest was held on July 18th, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




A little boy sits on top of his Father’s shoulders participating in a Black Lives Matter march on Juneteenth, a holiday recognizing…. This march was held in Teaneck, New Jersey on June 19th, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




Community leader Paul B. Jr. leads a Black Lives Matter march blocking traffic on Main Street in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey on July 21st, 2020. This protest was in response to the murder of George Floyd and the delay of justice in the case. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




A woman holds up a sign relating to George Floyd’s last words as he was murdered by convicted officer Derek Chauvin. This weekly demonstration blocked traffic in front of the Ridgefield Park municipal building on July 25th, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




Victor (man on left) tells an officer from the Bergen County Rapid Defense Force about the injustice of America during a Pro-Police rally met with a Black Lives Matter counter-protest in Fair Lawn, New Jersey on August 3rd, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




A local artist marched with a hand painted protest sign honoring George Floyd during a Black Lives Matter protest that continued into the night in Ridgewood, New Jersey on August 6th, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




Two demonstrators huddled underneath an umbrella with a protest in a rainstorm take a knee during a Black Lives Matter protest in Englewood, New Jersey on August 7th, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




A crowd gathers for a Black Lives Matter rally and march demanding the police ban the use of chokeholds to apprehend a suspect in Teaneck, New Jersey on August, 9th, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




A crowd of demonstrators march for all Black Lives during one of the weekly protests in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey on August 15th, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)





Community Leader Paul B. Jr. signals for a right turn as he leads a small crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters throughout the streets of Ridgefield Park on August 21st, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




A group named “Remember The 400” organized a march in Englewood to bring remembrance to the past 400 years Black people have been oppressed in the USA and to demand August become recognized as African American history month. This march was held in Englewood, New Jersey on August 24th, 2021. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




Kason Little leads a Black Lives Matter march to bring awareness to Maurice Gordon, a black man shot by New Jersey state police officers during a traffic stop, in Trenton, New Jersey on September 3rd, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)





A woman stands behind a police traffic barrier with a powerful sign referring to George Floyd at a Black Lives Matter protest for affordable housing in Englewood, New Jersey on September 4th, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




A Bergenfield police officer threatens to arrest a small crowd of demonstrators for marching in the street in Bergenfield, New Jersey on September 5th, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




A family outdoor dining joins in a “Hands Up. Don’t Shoot.” chant as a Black Lives Matter protest marches throughout the streets of Ridgewood, New Jersey on September 5th, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




Demonstrators carry a flag each representing a different county as they march to counter-protest a Pro-Police rally in Cresskill, New Jersey on September 12th, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




A candlelight and flower vigil held for Breonna Taylor after the officer who shot and killed her was not convicted for murder. This vigil was held outside the police department in Wayne, New Jersey on September 24th, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)





Demonstrators perform a “Die-In” and lie on the ground for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the time Derek Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd’s neck, outside a police department in Elizabeth, New Jersey on September 26th, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




A group of Black Lives Matter protesters counter a Trump caravan that took place on Route 17 in Paramus, New Jersey on September 26th, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




Ainsworth Minnott (Left) and Rostafa (Right) illuminated by police lights synchronize chants and movements leading a protest focusing on Breonna Taylor in Englewood, New Jersey on September 28th, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




Paul B. Jr. continues to lead weekly marches for Black Live and specifically Black Trans Lives months after the murder of George Floyd in Ridgefield Park on October 24th, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




Two little boys participate in the painting of a large Black Lives Matter mural near Votee Park in Teaneck, New Jersey on October 25th, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




Rostafa, a community activist and musician, holds his fist up in solidarity while a speech is being given after the Black Lives Matter mural was finished being painted near Votee Park in Teaneck, New Jersey on October 25th, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




Justin Pines, an activist and rapper, delivers a powerful speech during a Black Lives Matter march in response to supposedly unlawful arrests made in a recent BLM protest in Englewood in Englewood, New Jersey on October 31st, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




A Black Lives Matter demonstration marches in the rain on a Sunday afternoon focusing on “Bullying Tactics” used by members running for local government in Ramsey, New Jersey on November 1st, 2020. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




A candlelight vigil honors the life of Casey Goodson Jr., another victim of a police shooting, in Teaneck, New Jersey on December 21st, 2021. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




Days before Derek Chauvin’s trial verdict, a demonstration organized by Larry Hamm brings attention to the court case and the need for Derek Chauvin to be held accountable in Newark, New Jersey on April, 19th, 2021. (Photo/Julian Leshay)




Black Lives Matter Paterson, a community organization, organizes a march honoring George Floyd and other lives lost due to police brutality on the one year anniversary of George Floyd’s tragic and preventable passing. This took place in Paterson, New Jersey on May 25th, 2021. (Photo/Julian Leshay)





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