Jessica Mazzola and Dan Ivers, NJ Advance Media, December 31, 2015
A skirmish broke out between rival activists on the steps of City Hall Wednesday during what had been intended as a demonstration against violence in Newark.
Police were called to the scene after a small crowd began arguing over escalating violence and the city’s attempts to curb it.
The noon press conference was called by a group of activists led by Salaam Ismial, co-chair of the New Jersey Study Commission on Violence, and Abdul Muhammad, a longtime Newark anti-violence activist. In a release announcing the event, the two said they planned to ask Mayor Ras Baraka to “unleash his quality of life plan in addressing ongoing violence facing Newark residents.”
As the group spoke to reporters, however, a group of Baraka supporters including activist Donna Jackson and Tyrone “Street Counselor” Barnes began heckling and shouting from the base of the steps.
It soon evolved into an intense face-off between Jackson and Muhammad, which then erupted into a skirmish between members of the two camps. At one point, Barnes put his hands around Muhammad’s neck and pushed him to the ground.
Organizers and other participants said the skirmish lasted only a few minutes, and there were no serious injuries.