State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-Montville) attacked Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday, claiming the governor’s weekend appearances at Black Lives Matter protests in Hillside and Westfield were hypocritical.
“Murphy keeps telling us it’s too dangerous to conduct routine business,” Pennacchio said. “Schools can’t even hold graduations. The state’s economy is drowning under his arbitrary executive orders and edicts. His message to state residents comes through loud and clear. ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’”
On Sunday, Murphy appeared at protests in Hillside and Westfield. The appearances were not listed on the governor’s public schedule.
Dozens of protests against police brutality have sprung up in the Garden State in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.
Floyd, who is black, was killed after being confronted by Minneapolis police. One officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned Floyd’s neck with his knee for nearly nine minutes, maintaining the pin even after Floyd became unresponsive.
Murphy’s handling of the protests has already drawn accusations of political favoritism. Protests against the state’s lockdown saw organizers cited for violating executive orders barring large gatherings, but no summons have been issued against organizers of Black Lives Matter protests.
“While restaurants can’t serve diners, and shopkeepers are banned from opening their doors in the name of public health, the Governor is ignoring his orders and marching shoulder-to-shoulder, face-to-face with thousands of protesters,” Pennacchio said. “What happened to social distancing?”
The governor and First Lady Tammy Murphy appeared at the protests wearing masks. Most protesters at Black Lives Matter events have abided by guidelines recommending they wear cloth face coverings, though social distancing guidelines have been less frequently observed.
In pictures posted to social media, both Murphys are seen within arm’s reach of numerous protesters.
“I don’t begrudge him marching for a just cause, but the double-standard doesn’t sit right,” Pennacchio said. “He is the only one standing in the way of opening the businesses our society depends on for jobs, food, and personal services. There is no common sense or science behind his decision-making.”