Violence erupts in Trenton Sunday night a few hours after a peaceful protest ends

Two police vehicles burn in downtown Trenton Sunday night. Police stand and watch in the background.

Just before 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, people set police cars on fire and looted stores in downtown Trenton just hours after a peaceful protest against police brutality and the killing of George Floyd ended. Men smashed police cars, attempted to flip one over, and then set them on fire. As the police cars burned, people looted a Family Dollar store, liquor stores, and other businesses on State Street near the intersection of Broad Street, and broke into a bank building. The street was littered with bullets.

Police block protesters on State Street Sunday night.

Police are being called in from other towns to protect the capital city and stop the violence and looting.

Hours earlier, several thousand people gathered for a peaceful protest and display of unity in the city, and organizers lifted up Trenton residents for not resorting to violence to make their voices heard.

Protesters kicked off the rally at 3 p.m. in front of the State House, marching around the block before giving speeches. They then placed candles on the steps of a pavilion next to the State House Annex and took to the streets again, heading down West State Street and then East State Street to Clinton Avenue. They marched to the main police station in Trenton, and a few protesters threw stones at the building. Others called for calm and the situation was quickly diffused, but protesters wanted some kind of acknowledgment from the police and public officials about the problem of racism in law enforcement. They pointed to the police chief of Camden as a leader and role model for police for marching with residents on Saturday. Then they convinced officers to take a knee, though some officers refused and walked away. By about 5 p.m., the crowds had dispersed and a small group remained at the police station. Back at the State House, only a dozen or so people remained, saying their goodbyes to friends and then heading home.

The peaceful protest that drew thousands to downtown Trenton was organized by three young women, including Jayda Parker. The Lawrence High graduate was mentored by local activist Darren Freedom Green when she was a teen. Parker and her friends thought it was important to give Trenton a voice and hold a peaceful rally to tell officials that racism and police brutality will not be tolerated. They said they hoped the rally Sunday would be the first of many events to keep the pressure on officials to push for systemic change.

Called to the stage to speak by the organizers, Green encouraged everyone who attended the rally to mentor a young person. “Find a young person and mentor them. Find a young person and listen to them, and allow them to be better than you thought you could be. This young lady is nine times better than me,” Green said of Parker. “When you teach them, they will lead the revolution that moves us forward.”

Jayda Parker (center) with other organizers of the peaceful rally in Trenton on Sunday. Photo by Krystal Knapp.
The crowd gathered in front of the pavilion next to the State House. Photo by Evelyn Tu.
Several thousand people attended the peaceful rally in Trenton on Sunday. Photo by Evelyn Tu.
Photo by Evelyn Tu.
Photo by Evelyn Tu.
Photo by Evelyn Tu.
Photo by Evelyn Tu.
Photo by Evelyn Tu.
Photo by Evelyn Tu.
Photo by Evelyn Tu.
Protesters try to engage with police at their headquarters on North Clinton Avenue. Photo by Krystal Knapp.
By 5:30 p.m., a handful of protesters remained in area near the State House and the street was empty. Candles were left on the steps in memory of George Floyd and other victims of police brutality. Photo by Krystal Knapp.


  1. I agree the officer should never have kneed Floyd’s neck but let’s see Floyd’s alcohol level…what is the autopsy results and why were the police even involved with him? Did they just single Floyd out ?

    1. what does his alcohol level have do with anything? Didn’t the 8 minutes he laid with a knee in his neck tell you what the cause was. Why are looking for stuff to prove otherwise. Their job to arrest didn’t mean they were to kill him, they are to arrest him and let him have his due process, but instead they were the executioner of his death. What he did shouldn’t justify what the officer did in return.

  2. as horrific this crime was and was to watch it still doesn’t justify burning and looting private and public property. Give time justice wins out always, without destroying your neighbors property and destroying others lives is going to have long and painfull impact especially at this time where the population is already stressed and the COVID19 pandemic.

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