Gov. Phil Murphy repeatedly sidestepped questions about whether his appearance at two Black Lives Matter protests on Sunday showed an unequal enforcement of his executive order barring sizable public gatherings.
“I’ve only seen a couple of headlines. This may be one of the most profound moments in the history of our country, and it does feel different this time,” Murphy said when asked to respond to Republican criticism over his protest appearances. “And again, we’re in the first year of the fifth century since slavery first came to our shores, and the stain of racism is alive and well, and it’s before our very eyes.”
Republicans in the state have hammered Murphy since the Sunday protests, alternatively calling for the governor to be cited with a violation of his own executive order and calling for citations issued after anti-lockdown protests to be rescinded.
Though he was asked at least three times about the apparent disconnect, Murphy declined to comment on the enforcement of the executive order, though he did say that only the organizers of the lockdown protests were cited with executive order violations, adding that those decisions were made by local law enforcement.
The governor said issuing citations at protests against police brutality may have other negative effects.
“I can’t imagine what it would look like if we said to people, ‘Actually, you have to stay in. You have to ignore systemic racism, I’m sorry. Just ignore it. Just stay inside. You can’t go out and voice your anger, your rightful anger,’” Murphy said. “I can’t imagine what that looks like as it relates to public safety.”