Two South Brunswick High School alumnae, Essence Baker and Jada-Rae Poku, shared the message “Black lives matter, and we demand justice” during the South Brunswick Walks for Justice march.
An overwhelming number of supporters marched with them for 3.3 miles on June 12, starting and ending at South Brunswick High School.
“Having grown up in our lovely town, we have always loved being able to look at our fellow classmates and neighbors and to see so much diversity. It is that diversity that we aim to continue to unite and encourage,” the two said in a joint statement.
Invited speakers included Scott Feder, South Brunswick School District superintendent; Andrew Zwicker, a member of New Jersey’s General Assembly; Cantor Bruce Rockman, South Brunswicks’s Interfaith Clergy Association chair; former school board member Azra Baig; and Edwin Lloyd.
“We were overwhelmed with the amount of support we received from the South Brunswick community. Our marchers were all ages, old and young, we had a beautiful diverse crowd,” Poku said.
“Many people slowed down to honk their horn as we marched up Route 522, people stood outside with signs showing support and joined in the march as we passed their homes. Our speakers gave very powerful and inspiring messages about the importance of diversity, inclusion and acceptance.
“They also stressed the importance of voting as we had voter registration and census paperwork in different languages so everyone was able to receive and benefit. I was estimating a crowd of 700 to 800 people, but have seen some articles saying about 1,000 people came to stand in solidarity.
“We concluded our event back at the high school with a moment of silence for all the lives lost. We plan to continue with efforts that will unite and educate our community,” Poku said.
The march drew even more attention since two deer that ran from the high school property injured three people in attendance.
A 69-year-old woman had just begun to march on Stouts Lane at about 5:44 p.m. when a deer ran onto Stouts Lane and struck her. The woman suffered serious head and facial injuries. She was immediately treated by officers and a bystander. She was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick.
The woman was released from the hospital and was recovering at home as of June 16, according to the South Brunswick Police Department.
Police Chief Raymond Hayducka credited Detective Bryan Sites and a bystander for their fast actions.
“Detective Sites saw the incident and immediately reacted to stop the woman’s bleeding. He applied pressure to her head wounds and called for EMS. The actions of Detective Sites along with the bystander saved the woman,” Hayducka said.
Two other people injured in the incident received minor injuries.