Two charged with vandalizing police cars during protest

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NEWARK, NJ — Following an investigation by the Newark Police Department and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, two individuals have been charged with vandalizing police vehicles during an otherwise peaceful demonstration in the city of Newark, according to a June 23 press release from the prosecutor’s office.

“Peaceful protesters have a constitutionally protected right to demonstrate. We unequivocally support that, but we cannot condone unlawful conduct. That is why the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, working with our partners in the Newark Police, investigated these incidents and brought charges,” acting Prosecutor Theodore Stephens II said.

On May 30, protesters held a demonstration in Newark in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn.; police Officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with Floyd’s murder.

On June 4, Eric Stone, 29, of New York, and Julio Rodriguez, 27, of New Brunswick, were charged with criminal mischief and disorderly conduct for allegedly vandalizing marked police cars at the First Police Precinct, located on 17th Avenue in Newark. Stone has been charged with one count of criminal mischief and a disorderly persons offense. Rodriguez has been charged with four counts of criminal mischief for vandalizing four marked police cars and a disorderly persons offense.

“While we fully support the public’s right to conduct peaceful protests, we cannot turn a blind eye to individuals who blatantly commit criminal acts,” Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said. “We are grateful that, by and large, the protests in Newark following George Floyd’s murder were peaceful and without any major incidents of violence.’’

The defendants were given summons and are expected to appear in Newark Municipal Court.

These are accusations. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they enter a guilty plea or are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.