NEWARK – Air Force One touched down in Newark this afternoon as President Barack Obama kicked off a whirlwind trip to the Garden State. Senator Cory Booker, Congressman Donald Payne Jr., Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage all waited on the tarmac of Newark Liberty Airport for the President’s arrival.
The President briefly greeted a small crowd of onlookers before entering his motorcade and starting the day’s slate of activities.
Obama’s visit to New Jersey will focus on prisoner re-entry. He will visit Newark’s Integrity house—along with Booker and Baraka—to highlight how programs such as those at the residential facility can help formerly incarcerated individuals become productive members of society. According to a column co-written by Mayor Baraka, violent crime is “a crippling public health problem” that “disproportionately affects communities of color.” Baraka believes that re-entry programs like those in Newark are critical to address on a national level.
The visit comes hot on the heels of statements made by Governor Chris Christie regarding the Black Lives Matter Movement. Christie made claims last month on Face the Nation that, by supporting Black Lives Matter, “The President encourages lawlessness.” He also claims that the movement is calling on the “murder of police.”
Today, the Governor will be in Camden, rather than standing with the President as he famously did in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and after a public hug between the two sparked the ire of Christie’s Republican peers. As Governor Christie chases his own presidential aspirations for 2016, his absence today and the remarks he has made regarding the Black Lives Matter movement demonstrate that the bipartisan bond the two once shared is shattered.
After the event at Integrity House, the President will preside over a roundtable discussion at the Rutgers Newark Center for Law and Justice. After leaving the Brick City, Obama will head to New York City. There he will attend a DNC event and a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee event.
Air Force One will leave Newark around 10 p.m. tonight.