What makes this 18-minute video so compelling is that it’s an extraordinary departure from the usual tedium of State House deliberations.
Shot by NJ Spotlight News’ Kevin Phalon, it follows a group of Republican assemblymen yesterday as they defied vaccination protocols — if not outright orders — and pushed their way into the Assembly chamber.
Assemblymen Erik Peterson, Hal Wirths, Brian Bergen and John DiMaio took on state police stationed at the chamber’s stately entrance and refused to show their vaccination records, as required by new pandemic rules.
After a brief standoff and lots of overheated rhetoric about “tyranny” and “liberty dying here on the floor,” the police eventually let them and more than a dozen others into the building.
That set off another standoff, with Democrats who wouldn’t then join them on the floor. Eventually, all the legislators took their desks for a very brief session, taking up a scant handful of bills before adjourning for the day.
That wasn’t before Speaker Craig Coughlin, a Democrat, scolded the Republicans from the podium for their “political stunt” and potential risk to others. He didn’t have kind words for state police, either, calling the circumstances a “colossal failure in security.”
“The only thing that was asked of legislators here today is care about the people in the chamber,” Coughlin said. “(Republicans) could not be bothered to exhibit common decency and humanity, all because they would rather have a couple of minutes on the TV news.”
— Video by Kevin Phalon, editing by Genesis Obando
Saturdays just got more interesting.