Protesters gather outside MTV VMAs to demand clean water in Newark

Protesters gather outside MTV VMAs to demand clean water in Newark

About 200 Newark, N.J., protesters picketed outside the city’s Prudential Center on Monday during the MTV Video Music Awards to demand action on elevated lead levels in the city’s tap water, according to NJ.com.

The protesters, organized by the Newark Water Coalition, chanted, “We want our water free, we don’t need no MTV” as guests waited in line ahead of the award ceremony.

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Analysis has shown lead levels have been elevated in Newark water since 2017 but after tests cast doubt on the effectiveness of 39,000 water filters distributed by the city, Newark officials in August began handing out bottled water to residents.

This week Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. (D) announced a $120 million loan to the city to speed up replacement of 18,000 lead service lines responsible for contaminating the water, according to the publication.

However, the distribution of the bottled water has illustrated the stakes of the crisis and caused numerous residents to criticize local officials for their handling of the issue.

“We are ready to fight for clean water for Newark. We have been suffering for years, many years, crying out for help to our elected officials who have not stepped up to save us,” Shakima Thomas, one of the central organizers of the demonstration, said in a video.

 

City Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said five demonstrators were arrested attempting to enter secure areas of the VMAs event but that there were no other disruptions to speak of.

“We had a few — and I mean a very few — who tried jumping police barricades. When that happens, it becomes a public safety issue,” he said, according to NJ.com.