Lakewood police break up yet another wedding violating social distancing order

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Lakewood police have broken up yet another wedding in the town that was violating the social distancing order issued by Gov. Phil Murphy to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

A spokesman for the police department could not say how many people were in attendance, but says that patrol officers discovered the wedding while responding to the scene of a car accident.

Lakewood Police Capt. Gregory Staffordsmith says that while officers were tending to the crash scene, two vans pulled up with would-be wedding guests. Staffordsmith says that a party tent was set up in a nearby backyard.

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The wedding was dispersed and 39-year-old William Katzenstein was issued a criminal complaint. He is expected to appear in court next month.

Lakewood Mayor Raymond Coleshas asked police to impound the tent, tables, and chairs that were used in the wedding.

This is the latest in a series of weddings that Lakewood police have had to break up in the last two weeks since the governor banned all social gatherings and said that New Jerseyans who are not essential workers should remain at home.

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Murphy has said that his order is not a “polite suggestion” and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has said that criminal charges will be filed.

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The governor said Thursday that most people in New Jersey have been compliant.

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“And it just so happened that some of the non-compliant folks happened to be in Lakewood. There's been two or three examples there. By the way, not shocking considering how large Lakewood is and has become.”

But Murphy stopped short of calling out Lakewood residents directly, despite numerous calls by the public for him to address the issue. Murphy eluded that discrimination may be part of the reason so many people are upset. Lakewood has a large Orthodox Jewish community.

“There’s always going to be someone out there who connect the dots and start blaming communities. The default, sadly … is that sooner or later the Jewish community at one form or another gets put into the sights,” Murphy said.

The governor said that his administration would continue to monitor the situation.

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