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Progressives Hold Protest at Booker Presidential Fundraiser

The $2,800-a-plate event was hosted by South Jersey powerbroker George Norcross and Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo

Teachers, environmentalists, immigrant rights advocates and the Working Families Alliance, which endorsed Bernie Sanders in 2016, shouted at the arriving donors to Sen. Cory Booker’s midday presidential fundraiser at Nanina’s In the Park in Belleville on Friday.

They also took aim at George Norcross and the billion-plus dollars of state tax incentives awarded to Norcross companies and associates of Norcross in Camden. Booker — who along with Sen. Bob Menendez expressed support for the Camden investments in a recent op-ed — has been accused of supporting party bosses.

The protesters also criticized Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo for taking federal dollars to house immigrant detainees in the county jail and Booker for taking campaign donations from both hosts of the $2,800-a-plate presidential fundraiser.

“Two nights ago, Cory Booker stood in front of the United States of America and told everyone that he didn’t believe in corporations running the government, and now George Norcross and the less-than-honest DiVincenzo are having a fundraiser for him. I don’t get that. It sounds hypocritical to me,” said protester Gretchen Oter.

Norcoss and DiVincenzo declined to comment. In a statement, the Booker campaign said, “Anyone who knows Cory knows that he’s never hesitated to stand up and fight tough fights, speak out against injustice, and work to build a more fair and just country.”

After Booker stood on stage for part one of NBC News’ Democratic presidential debate, he said part two showed former Vice President Biden will have to do a lot of explaining about his record after Biden defended his vote against busing black students to white schools in the 1970s in an exchange with California Sen. Kamala Harris.

On Friday, Biden said 6o seconds in a debate can’t define a lifetime commitment to civil rights.

Former Montclair Fire Chief Kevin Allen recalled the first day white students from upper Montclair were bused to Nishuane Elementary in the South End.

“I really didn’t understand Vice President Biden’s explanation. It sounded like he was saying that he supported more of a states’ rights view about busing. Really, it was almost shocking, to be honest. Like, really,” he said. Allen said a lot of good came from busing and that after all these years, he doesn’t think Biden gets it.

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