BOONTON — On Sunday, March 17, several hundred people from Boonton and surrounding communities met at the Jam-E-Masjid Islamic Center in Boonton for a Walk and Prayer event organized by the four Morris County Islamic Centers, in grief for the victims of the terror attack at a mosque in Christchurch, NZ. Numerous faith leaders from Muslim, Christian and Jewish congregations in the area joined in the event and addressed the attendees.
Sheriff Gannon was the main law enforcement speaker at the event at Jam-E-Masjid Islamic Center, his hometown, and he reassured the crowd that his office will always be ready to protect and defend people of all faiths against acts of terrorism.
Attendees walked from the mosque on Washington Street to the Boonton Town Hall and back, in solidarity for the victims of the terrorist attack.
Numerous elected officials, including U.S. Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, Morris County Sheriff James Gannon, Freeholder Director Doug Cabana, Freeholder John Krickus, Boonton Mayor Matt DiLauri, Boonton Alderman Cyril Wekilsky, Parsippany Mayor Michael Soriano, Montgomery Mayor Sadaf Jaffer, addressed the crowd. Boonton Aldermen Joseph Fenske and Bob Tullock, Boonton Republican Municipal Chairman Joe Bock, Boonton Police Chief David Mayhood, Montville Police Chief Andrew Caggiano and Rockaway Borough Police Chief Conrad Pepperman were also in attendance to support the event.
Gul B. Khan, vice president of Jam-E. Masjid Islamic Center, said Sheriff Gannon immediately deployed tactical resources to protect all mosques in Morris County during Friday prayers after hearing about the New Zealand attacks. The sheriff also directed officers to conduct extra patrols around Morris County’s Jewish houses of worship and schools.
Members of the Morris County Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team (SERT), K-9 Unit and Bomb Squad, along with Boonton police, provided a significant police presence during Sunday’s prayers and remarks within the mosque and along the walk route from the mosque past Town Hall and back. The mood of the event was upbeat, with many embraces and handshakes and signs of solidarity like one marcher’s placard that read: “I (heart) my Muslim neighbors.”Jam-E-Masjid Islamic Imam Wesley Lebron, who welcomed the crowd as “brethren in humanity,” said Sheriff Gannon also assured him the mosque was protected. The sheriff issued a formal statement about the attacks:“Sheriff Gannon is like a member of our family. He’s always there for us,” said Khan.
The savagery inflicted on people praying at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, while they were engaged in private, peaceful acts of their religious faith only heightens the resolve of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies to protect all houses of worship, schools and institutions from acts of terrorism.
No person – no matter the race, ethnicity or faith – should fear kneeling or bowing their head in prayer nor fear playing at school, dancing at a concert or walking on a sidewalk. Freedom to live without fear or as a target of hate is a desire we all share as people of the human race.
“As the Morris County Sheriff, I join the Morris County Islamic Centers in standing up for peace and denouncing the unforgivable hatred that led to the murders of 50 people and wounding of at least 20 others in New Zealand,” said Gannon
The Morris County Sheriff’s Office, Morris County Police Chiefs and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office stand by and in front of all members of its religious communities. We are united with good people of all faiths and will continue to work relentlessly as warriors to protect the community from violence.
“A moment of silence for the people of New Zealand. A moment of silence for people of the Islamic faith. A moment of silence for all people of faith. We can’t let terrorism divert us from praying to who we want to pray to. As the sheriff, as our elected officials here, as police, we’re not going to allow that,” Sheriff Gannon said.
Members of the Morris County Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team (SERT), K-9 Unit and Bomb Squad, along with Boonton police, provided a significant police presence during Sunday’s prayers and remarks within the mosque and along the walk route from the mosque past Town Hall and back. The mood of the event was upbeat, with many embraces and handshakes and signs of solidarity like one marcher’s placard that read: “I (heart) my Muslim neighbors.”