As reported by nj.com, about 200 public employees marched across the Delaware River this morning in protest of cuts to their benefits. Later, protesters attempting to get into the Statehouse were pushed back by State Police troopers.
Led by Revolutionary War re-enactors, the workers carried signs and chanted as they crossed the Calhoun Street bridge from Morrisville, Pennsylvania to Trenton. The protest, organized by the New Jersey Education Association teachers union, was designed to replicate Washington’s crossing before the Battle of Trenton. The group marched to the Statehouse where they met up with another group that began at the War Memorial. Much smaller than a similar rally last week at the capitol, the protesters waved American flags and “Don’t Tread on Me” flags.
About 11:00 a.m., the crowd turned toward the Statehouse Annex, looked up to the fourth floor where the bill is being debated, and began chanting “We’ll be back, we’ll be back.” Nine state troopers blocked the main entrance to the complex and were no longer admitting the public.
Minutes later, with speakers booming, whistles singing, and noise-makers clapping, the crowd danced to ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It,” a popular 1984 hit by Twisted Sister. The rally then marched toward the doors of the Statehouse.
At the rally, New Jersey Education Association President Barbara Keshishian equated state workers’ opposition to the pension and health benefit bill rapidly moving through the Legislature today with the Battle of Trenton during the American Revolution, which gave a much-needed morale boost to the Continental Army against the British.
Keshishian called today’s protests near the Statehouse, which were attended by about 1,000 union members, “The Second Battle of Trenton.” “We are here today to do the very same thing, ladies and gentlemen. We have taken some blows in recent months. We look at Trenton and see it occupied by hostile forces. By people who put the interests of the wealthy ahead of the needs of the people,” she said. “I will not sugarcoat this, the situation looks bleak. Once again, the odds look long. But like Washington’s soldiers in 1776, we are determined to fight, and we are determined to win,” said Keshishian.