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‘We will be shutting the city down:’ July 4 protest planned for A.C.

ATLANTIC CITY — A Black Lives Matter protest that may “shut the city down” is planned for 1 p.m. Saturday at the city’s Public Safety building, said Steve Young, a city activist and organizer of the event.

Young, who is also a member of the city’s Planning Board and Citizens Advisory Board, spoke on WPG Talk Radio 95.5’s “Hurley in the Morning” show Monday and said the protest is to “bring light to the oppression and the racism” in the city and around the country.

“They don’t hear us,” Young said. “We are going to speak up and stand up for our rights. It’s now or never. No justice, no peace.”

Atlantic City Police Department spokesman Sgt. Kevin Fair said the “department respects the rights of the people to peacefully protest,” and has provided officers for prior demonstrations to assist with traffic concerns and public safety. But, Fair said, “criminal activity will not be tolerated, and those that engage in committing unlawful conduct will be arrested.”

Young declined to say on the radio whether the protest will stay peaceful or not.

“Are you going to block the expressway and keep cars from coming in?” radio host Harry Hurley asked.

“We don’t say what we’re doing till that day,” Young responded.

Mayor Marty Small Sr. said he has been in contact with Young and is discouraging the protest from proceeding as planned.

“My job as mayor is to protect the health, safety and welfare of all people in Atlantic City,” Small said. “I’m doing everything I can to prevent the protest. And understand that people have a right to protest, but the other things will not be tolerated.”

Hurley argued that shutting down the city wouldn’t just hurt the casinos, it would hurt small businesses, especially on a busy holiday weekend.

“I don’t think this is in the best interest of you or the city,” Hurley said. “I don’t think this is in anyone’s best interest, the Black residents in the city or the people wanting to come here and vacation.”

Young said the protest is necessary. “It’s a crime for people to be hung in the streets and shot with their hands up.”

Hurley argued that shutting down a city is a crime as well, and suggested to Young that he have a discussion about racism instead of protesting.

“Shutting the city down hurts people,” he said. “If you shut down the city, it’s criminal. It’s not a peaceful protest.”

Kaleem Shabazz, president of the Atlantic City NAACP and 3rd Ward Councilman, said he is “all for people expressing themselves and freedom of speech and assembly,” but emphasized that property destruction and violence undermine the legitimacy of the message.

Young was involved in the May 31 protest over the death of George Floyd that started out constructively but became destructive. Audio of Young encouraging participants to do “some window shopping” preceded looting and property damage at Tanger Outlets The Walk. Shabazz said Young is “partially responsible” for what happened May 31 and must do more to prevent a similar outcome.

Shabazz said he would ask Young to do three things: one, coordinate with the police department to plan a protest route that would cause minimal disruption; two, deploy parade marshals to ensure those who participate do so peacefully; and three, actively discourage criminal behavior.

“There should be no ambiguity in his message if his message is change and justice, which I support,” Shabazz said. “I don’t agree with just shutting something down because you have the ability to.”

While Young said the protest is 110% happening, he wants to have a discussion with lawmakers in Trenton, and in particular, Gov. Phil Murphy.

WATCH NOW: Atlantic City Day Nursery reopens after 3-month closure due to COVID-19

ATLANTIC CITY — Early Monday morning, for the first time in months, parents walked their children up the driveway to Atlantic City Day Nursery.

When they arrived, they stopped at a yellow piece of tape a few feet from the entryway. Director Alice Armstrong eagerly greeted them but kept her distance as she spouted off a series of questions.

“Have you taken any fever-reducing Tylenol?” asked Armstrong, wearing a cloth mask and a plastic face shield. “Have you been exposed to anyone with the virus?”

Then, she used an infrared thermometer to scan the child’s temperature, marking it down on a clipboard. If they passed the quiz, the children were admitted inside.

The 114-year-old Atlantic City Day Nursery on North Boston Avenue reopened its doors this week to local families after being closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Atlantic City Day Nursery, established in 1906 by Sara Leeds, of the region’s famous Leeds family, serves about 50 families. About 18 children returned Monday, and 10 more will return in July.

One of the main concerns of the nonprofit nursery and its board of directors when it closed in the spring was not how it would reopen, but if they could reopen due to financial constraints. The pandemic caused the board to cancel its biggest fundraiser of the year, the annual fashion show.

Armstrong said they sent out 15 grant applications during the closure, and so far have only heard back on two, which they were denied.

Tuition revenue is also down as many parents are still unemployed or have older children at home due to COVID-19 and are electing not to return at this point.

Armstrong said they were able to receive some state funding to subsidize the costs of reopening.

“It helped us for a little bit, and we hope our enrollment picks up so we can continue serving Atlantic City because we’ve been here for so long,” she said.

Armstrong said the reopening took a lot of preparation over the last month. “We’ve kept communication with parents during the break. We sent them care packages,” she said, with masks, sanitizer and coloring books. “The biggest challenge is the downsizing in classrooms. At this age, it’s about building that social emotional growth in them.”

The reunion Monday was strange for the children and parents, who were used to walking them inside with hugs and kisses before heading off to work. Some of the children lingered or cried before saying goodbye, others were eager to rejoin their friends.

“We’re happy because we need to go back to work, unfortunately,” said parent Sergio Guseto, who arrived to the nursery with his 15-month-old son just after 8 a.m.

Eliceth Salvatierra was also returning to her job at the Tropicana on Monday for a staff meeting. She said she was glad to have a place to take her two sons as the city’s businesses reopen.

Lateefah Prescott’s 2-year-old daughter waved excitedly at Armstrong when she arrived.

“It’s good they reopened, but it’s a little different,” Prescott said. “I thought she would have a hard time adjusting, but she did fine.”

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Longtime South Jersey radio host Barbara Altman dies at 78

Altman Barbara Altman

Barbara Altman, director of the Atlantic City Marathon and a former radio talk-show host at WOND, died June 22. She was 78.

Born and raised in Ventnor, Altman attended Ventnor schools before going to Atlantic City High School, where she met her husband, Eddie. They were married until his death in 2019.

After attending Glassboro State College (now Rowan University), Atlman joined the South Jersey radio scene as a host at WOND. She was the first FCC-licensed woman in the state and the first woman inducted into the New Jersey Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

An active member of her community, Altman was the 1999 New Jersey Mother of the Year and a 1997 inductee of the Atlantic County Women’s Hall of Fame.

She is survived by her children, Jennifer and Daniel (Kimmie) Altman; her granddaughter, Joelle; her siblings, Joseph Winston (Sally) and Edward Winston (Cheri); and several nieces, nephews and cousins.