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The protest in the southern New Jersey township was related to people who have unfolded throughout the United States since George Floyd was killed in police custody: About 70 folks gathered to rally in opposition to police brutality and systemic racism.
But as the varied group marched alongside Monday, waving indicators and chanting slogans in help of the Black Lives Matter motion, it was met by a number of white males who had gathered close to an indication that stated “All Lives Matter” and in entrance of a pickup truck draped with an American flag and a pro-Trump signal.
One of the lads yelled on the marchers angrily whereas kneeling on the neck of one other who was facedown on the bottom — an obvious try and mock the killing of Mr. Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis after a white officer knelt on his neck for almost 9 minutes.
By Tuesday afternoon, the state’s Department of Corrections stated it had suspended one in every of its staff after confirming that he was among the many group that taunted and tried to upset the protesters.
Hours later, FedEx confirmed that one in every of its staff had additionally taken half in the counterprotest and had been fired consequently.
Widespread condemnation of the scene, which was captured on video, got here rapidly.
The mayor and the police chief in Franklin Township, the Gloucester County group the place it occurred, issued an announcement calling the episode “revolting” and saying that it had left them “appalled and saddened.”
“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,” the Corrections Department said in a statement.
The department did not identify the officer, but officials said he was a senior corrections police officer who joined the Corrections Department in March 2002 and worked at a youth detention facility in Bordentown until January 2019, when he moved to the Bayside prison in Leesburg.
Gov. Philip D. Murphy called the counterprotesters’ actions “repugnant.”
“We won’t let the actions of a few distract from our progress toward dismantling systemic racism,” Mr. Murphy said in a statement.
The union that represents New Jersey’s 6,000 corrections officers, PBA Local 105, said in a statement that under “no circumstance do we condone nor will we ever tolerate actions and expressions of discrimination, harassment and hatred” of the sort engaged in by the counterprotesters.
And FedEx wasted no time in announcing that its employee had been fired.
“We do not tolerate the kind of appalling and offensive behavior depicted in this video,” the company said in a statement.
Daryan Fennal, who organized the protest in the town, which is about 30 miles southeast of Philadelphia, said that it had started at the local community center at around 3 p.m. and that protesters had then marched more than two miles to police headquarters.
There, Ms. Fennal said, the group knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the length of time the white officer had his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck — and then had a discussion.
It was on the way back to the community center, where many of the protest participants had parked their cars, that the group encountered the counterprotesters, Ms. Fennal, 21, said.
“I was crying, immediately,” she said. “I was thinking about the kids who were marching behind me. That’s not something easily unseen.”
In addition to mocking Mr. Floyd’s death, she said, the men on the side of the road had yelled, “If George Floyd would have complied he wouldn’t be dead”; “Go cash your checks”; and “Black Lives Matter to no one” as the group passed.
Ms. Fennal — whose mother is white and whose father, now deceased, was black — said the expressions of hatred had not diminished her passion, or that of others, to continue protesting against injustice.
“There are more people who are encouraged, even more so, to stand up and march alongside us and help black people who are facing systematic racism,” she said.
Another protest is scheduled in Franklin Township on Saturday.
Jack Begg contributed research.