Organizer of NJ coronavirus stay-at-home protest hit with criminal violation

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The organizer of a protest against New Jersey’s coronavirus stay-at-home order is facing a criminal charge, authorities said.

Kim Pagan, of Toms River, N.J., was charged Friday following the small but noisy demonstration in front of the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton.

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New Jersey police accused Pagan of violating emergency stay-at-home orders issued by Gov. Phil Murphy to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Pagan was issued a summons and not arrested, according to a news release from state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.

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“If you think emergency orders are more like guidelines than actual rules, think again,” Grewal said in a tweet Friday.

Pagan has to answer to the charge in Muncipal Court. Violations of emergency orders constitute a disorderly persons offense carrying a potential sentence of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, Gewal said.

The protesters gathered outside the Statehoiuse as Murphy and other state officials held a media briefing about the COVID-19 pandemic inside, News 12 New Jersey reported.

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Protesters called on the Democratic governor to reopen New Jersey and allow people to go back to work and start to repair the economy.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy's thanks Montclair landlord David Placek for giving his tenants a grace period to pay their rent during a news conference regarding the COVID-19 cases at the War Memorial in Trenton, N.J. on Saturday, April 11, 2020. (Chris Pedota/The Record via AP, Pool)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy's thanks Montclair landlord David Placek for giving his tenants a grace period to pay their rent during a news conference regarding the COVID-19 cases at the War Memorial in Trenton, N.J. on Saturday, April 11, 2020. (Chris Pedota/The Record via AP, Pool)

Video of the protest posted on social media, captured a woman holding a megaphone shouting, “Open New Jersey now.”

Vehicles driving by could be heard honking their horns.

The protest drew a relatively small crowd and was being policed by troopers wearing masks to protect against the virus, according to NJ.com.

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Protests against coronavirus stay-at-home orders have been held by conservatives and President Trump supporters in other states, including Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Minnesota and California, according to reports.