The marchers were invoking the memory of Peter Lee Williams, 51, who died on June 10 after reportedly attempting to break up a fight between his daughter and another teenager. He had a heart attack after police pepper-sprayed the area.
On Friday, the protestors shouted “Justice for Peter” and “When do we want it? Now!” as they walked from City Hall, to the main shopping district of Broadway, and then to the 400 block of Avenue C, the site of the incident. During the march, police vehicles road alongside the protestors and blocked off streets for them so they could cross.
On June 10, a responding officer attempted to break up a fight in the vestibule of the building at 403 Avenue C, Bayonne Police Chief Ralph Scianni said on June 12.
After shouting commands for the fight participants to disperse, which they allegedly ignored, the officer fired off two bursts of pepper spray over the heads of those fighting, according to Scianni.
That action resulted in some of the combatants clearing out onto the sidewalk. At that point, the female teenager fighting with Williams’ daughter allegedly attempted to attack Williams, and a police officer prevented that from happening, Scianni said.
At that time, the officer heard a loud thump behind him, and turned to see Williams collapsed on the ground, the officer’s report said.
An Emergency Medical Services unit transported Williams to Bayonne Medical Center, where he was treated before being pronounced dead.
On June 12, a man who identified himself as a neighbor and relative of Williams said that he had asthma, heart problems, and was on dialysis.
Upon reaching the march’s ending point on Friday, a group leader told the crowd that they had made progress.
“We got the attention going, we got the momentum going,” he said.