NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The mayor and police director urged residents of the state's largest city on Friday to remain peaceful while protesting recent police shootings of black men and said they're taking additional measures to protect officers after the sniper attack killings of five officers in Dallas.
Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said police will make sure protesters are able to exercise their First Amendment rights, but he said police will make sure security is in place in case of any copycats.
A protest was planned for Friday evening in front of a police precinct about a mile from Newark's central business district. Ambrose said additional safety measures would be employed, but he didn't offer specifics.
Hundreds of protesters blocked traffic near Newark's main train station on Thursday hours before the five officers were killed in Dallas.
Newark, a city engulfed by rioting in the late 1960s, is now the site of many peaceful protests, said Mayor Ras Baraka, a former high school principal and activist who said he has taken part in many of them over the years.
"People should continue to do what they've been doing," he said. "This is a terrible anomaly, and it should not be repeated, and we want to make sure it isn't. Most people have protested for years, peacefully, in this city, and it has never turned into anything like this, and I would expect that to continue."
Referring to the Dallas attack, Baraka denounced the "few sick individuals who believe they should take matters into their own hands and characterize everybody in the same way."
"I would say we don't want to become the very people we oppose," he added. "We don't want to take on the sentiment that everybody is responsible for a specific thing individuals have done. We don't want people to generalize us as a community, and we shouldn't allow people to generalize other people the same way."
Ambrose said two-officer units, instead of solo officers, would be added between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., and he said local clergy members would be on standby to help police defuse any potentially volatile situations.