With the pandemic still looming, an act of hooliganism was witnessed in New Jersey’s Statehouse, where a handful of Republicans showed utter disregard for newly enforced COVID-19 protocols, which required them to show proof of either complete vaccination or a negative test result before entering the State Assembly.
As lawmakers, it was the most ironic display of adherence to legislation, especially at such a sensitive time. The police troopers, who were trying to ensure compliance had a 15 minute, stand-off by blocking the Republicans from entering the chamber for a voting session.
“This is tyranny, folks!” Assemblyman Erik Peterson, R-Hunterdon, said, in a high pitch, as the lawmakers pressured at the chamber doors. “America, see what’s happening here!”
Republicans who had made a forceful entry continued to attend the assembly for a few hours, while it was a chaotic scene as democrats tried hard to remove them from the chamber.
The first voting session was marked by this display of contempt for rules when the wounds from the latest wave are still afresh in minds of all. In New Jersey alone, over 28,400 residents have lost their lives to the virus. The surge although had fallen, they are again gaining momentum during the holiday season.
The Republicans undeterredly maintained that the policy being adopted is unconstitutional and does not make sense. Many democrats distanced themselves and called this act a ‘political theater.
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, lividly called upon the members and referred to the act as a “stunt” at a dangerous time.
The State Police also was reprimanded by the Speaker, Coughlin said there was a “colossal failure in security here at the Statehouse,” calling the act intolerable and a bad precedent.
“The only thing that was asked of the legislators here today to do was to show that they weren’t infected, to care about their colleagues and the people in the chamber,” the speaker spoke while maintaining the decorum from his podium. “I’m outraged.”
He added that Republicans “could not be bothered to exhibit common decency and humanity all because they would rather have a couple of minutes on TV news.”