Seaside Heights initially denied a request to hold a march in support of President Donald Trump on the boardwalk, but allowed it to go forward after the borough attorney raised constitutional concerns about the action.
Seaside Heights will be the location of New Jersey’s MAGA March – MAGA stands for Make American Great Again, Trump’s campaign slogan – which is taking place in cities across the country this Saturday. The borough has, not unexpectedly, received a mix of praise and disdain from the president’s supporter and detractors, and borough officials said Monday that they initially did not want any political march to take place on the boardwalk. Some residents have raised concerns that conflicts could erupt if anti-Trump protesters clash with marchers.
“The MagaMarch organization’s request was initially denied by Mayor Anthony Vaz, who asked the organization to hold the event at a location other than Seaside Heights,” Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz said in a prepared statement released Monday. “But MagaMarch representatives declined to consider an alternate location declaring that the event is protected by the principles of free speech and freedom of assembly.”
“After the borough attorney reviewed pertinent constitutional law requirements, the governing body was advised that denying the application could potentially result in litigation,” Vaz continued. “Therefore, the event was approved and our goal right now is to assure the safety of participants, bystanders, and Boardwalk visitors.”
Vaz said Police Chief Thomas Boyd “is working with our public safety partners to make sure that we have adequate resources available during the event.”
The application was approved with certain conditions, including:
- Marchers/rally participants must stay on the east side of the Boardwalk.
- Event organizers must keep the west side of the Boardwalk open and clear for other boardwalk visitors/walkers who are not participating in the rally/parade.
- Marchers/rally participants must not block the entrances/exits of any boardwalk businesses or facilities and fire hydrants.
- Use of the Franklin Ave. stage is not authorized.
- No vehicles of any kind are permitted on the Boardwalk promenade.
The march will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.