Atlantic City officials are trying to deter a potential protest during on the Fourth of July this weekend.
During a Facebook Live address to residents Tuesday evening, Mayor Marty Small Sr. said that he and other city officials and organizations are set to meet Wednesday afternoon with Steve Young, the organizer of a protest scheduled to take place Saturday, the Fourth of July.
The protest, scheduled to take place in front of the city’s Public Safety Building on Atlantic Avenue, is billed as a protest to support George Floyd, the man who died in Minneapolis police custody when an officer kneeled on his neck for almost 9 minutes.
“Some of the items that you know Mr. Young is concerned about have merits, and they should be addressed,” the mayor said. “However, we are in the listening phase. No promises will be made except the promise that we want to be at the table and conduct business for the betterment of Atlantic City, the business community, and everyone else.”
During a Friday interview on WPG Talk Radio 95.5′s “Hurley in the Morning” show, Young told host Harry Hurley that systemic racism has been going on for years, and it’s been overlooked for years.
“On July the Fourth, we are going to shut Atlantic City down to show the light of systemic racism, and the issues economically and socially, and the oppression that happens right here in Atlantic City,” Young said during the interview.
A protest and march through the city on May 31 began peacefully but deteriorated into rioting and looting.
Several businesses, especially in the area Tanger Outlets near Baltic Avenue, were damaged, so much so that some businesses have yet to reopen. The mayor said that although he does not feel the protests will reach the level of intensity that occurred in May, and that he’s in favor of peaceful protests, law enforcement agencies will be ready if the situation calls for their intervention.
“We cannot afford another embarrassment,” Small said. “This is the time for everyone to step up. We cannot have people coming in from out of town, destroying our businesses, destroying our properties, and destroy Atlantic City’s good name.”
Small also addressed reports that the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club was headed to the city Saturday.
“I learned some information that the Pagans motorcycle gang was supposed to come here and try to intervene. That is all fine and dandy. However, we are going to take care of our affairs here in the city of Atlantic City.”
The Pagans have been beefing up their membership in New Jersey, state officials said this past October during public hearings about outlaw motorcycle clubs.
The club has always been strong in South Jersey, but evidence shows they are growing in the north too. State law enforcement officials estimated then that they have 300 members in 17 chapters throughout the state – with a 50% increase in chapters over the past three years.