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    Thousands of New Jersey's young people, joined by their parents, teachers, clergy members and neighbors, will take to the streets on March 24, 2018, as part of the national March for Our Lives movement. Watch video

    One paragraph in the mission statement of March for Our Lives stands out for its sheer horror.

    "Every kid in this country now goes to school wondering if this day might be their last. We live in fear."

    Thousands of New Jersey's young people, joined by their parents, teachers, clergy members and neighbors, will take to the streets Saturday in a desperate attempt to make that fear go away.

    They will be marching for their lives - for all of our lives - to convince the adults in Congress to put an end to the gun violence that has become the equivalent of an extra-curricular activity in our nation's schools.

    Residents in close to two dozen Garden State communities are planning sister events to the main march in Washington, D.C. organized by the students of Parkland, Florida, who lived through one of the most terrifying days of their lives on Valentine's Day.

    Princeton, Audubon, Asbury Park, Red Bank, Englewood, Montclair and Morristown are among venues where the protests will take place.

    Thinking of taking your kid to the March for Our Lives?

    Gov. Phil Murphy is slated to speak at the march in Newark, joined by the mother of Newark's Mayor Ras Baraka. Amina Baraka lost a daughter in a domestic violence incident almost 15 years ago.

    New Jersey's first lady, Tammy Murphy, and U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5th District) are expected to be among the protesters in Hackensack.

    The marches, nearly 900 of them throughout the world, are part of a grass-roots movement steadily gathering strength after a gunman with an AR-15 weapon murdered 17 people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

    Baby Boomers grew up convinced they were going to save the world, and in some respects, they succeeded.

    They organized massive protests that eventually ended the war in Vietnam, they helped move the country in the right direction when it came to women's rights and civil rights, they made discoveries to conquer or at least control AIDS and cancer.

    But now it's falling to a new generation to attack the deadly plague of gun violence that the adults in the room have not been able - or willing -- to contain.

    Held hostage by a lobby whose sole reason to exist is to sell more guns, legislators have memorized a playbook of thoughts and prayers to use after a gun-wielding sociopath rampages through a shopping mall, an outdoor concert, a nightclub or a school.

    With youths' clear-eyed vision, these committed organizers see right through the hypocrisy. They're demanding that their lawmaker care more about the children in their districts than about the dollars in their campaign chests.

    They may be novices at pulling together marches and planning rallies, these students of today. But they are driven by a fear that goes bone deep. We pray Congress hears them.

    Bookmark Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find Opinion on Facebook.


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    When and where the marches are happening in New Jersey, Washington D.C. and New York City on Saturday, March 24, 2018 (3/24/2018). Where N.J. Governor Phil Muphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy are speaking. What time the marches start.


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    Newark's Rilla Gauge is trying to wake up to the paper ... like the Star-Ledger. (Get it?) And he recently took his song, which shouts out his hometown paper, on tour with Fetty Wap. Just call him Mr. Star Ledger. Watch video

    Terrence Kelsor Jr. remembers the last time he was in The Star-Ledger.

    "I was on honor roll in the seventh grade," he says. 

    About 20 years later, he has managed a return to its pages.

    How? He wrote a song about his hometown paper.

    In October, Kelsor, a rapper who goes by the name Rilla Gauge, released the song "Star Ledger," an up-and-at-'em anthem that uses the morning paper to convey a go-getter message.

    He's since embraced the nickname "Mr. Star Ledger" and recently took the song on tour as an opener for Fetty Wap, the megastar from Paterson, performing the track for a series of crowds including one in Atlanta that wouldn't have been familiar with the paper. (That's OK, he says, they bopped along anyway.)

    Heading into a recording studio tucked in a home on North Seventh Street in Newark earlier this month, Gauge, 34, beamed about being interviewed for the song. 

    "It's the Star-Ledger!" he told a neighbor. 

    "Aiight," the man replied. "You're gonna be there soon." 

    The song's central theme and chorus is not about front-page news. Or making the news. No, he's just trying to "wake up to the paper like The Star-Ledger." He's "making paper like the Star-Ledger." Paper as in money -- making money.

    "Wake up! Wake up! Good morning," he says in the song, rallying to start the day. Other lyrics are not repeatable in the Star-Ledger -- but Gauge is pretty happy about the reaction to the single. 

    "It's a very motivational song," he says. "People say in the morning time, it helps them to start their day, motivates them to go out, go make ends meet so they could pay their bills or even if they're going running. People work out to it, people dance to it." 

    Gauge started out with the name T-Rillz, which became Rilla Gauge. "Realer than most," he explains. "As a person, I'm a realist." The gauge part is "like a powerful force," he says. 

    The so-called Mr. Star Ledger had been making music for years, but it wasn't the kind of party sound apparent in his single. He grew up in the Newark's Ivy Hill neighborhood a fan of Jay-Z, Nas, Bone Thugs & Harmony and E-40.

    "I'm versatile but I like the stick to the essence of hip-hop," says Gauge, who currently splits his time between Newark and Bloomfield and has a mixtape called "I'm On My 90's S***."

    His father, the senior Terrence Kelsor, has a background in gospel music and his mother, Carla Williamson, is a singer. Gauge sang chorus and played drums in church, but got his start in songwriting by crafting alternate lyrics to the heavy sounds of Tupac Shakur's Makaveli tracks. Then he formed a rap group at his local Boys & Girls Club. 

    Caution: explicit lyrics

    His half-brother, Nathaniel Thompson, aka DJ Flawless, produced "Star Ledger" with Atlanta rapper Future on his mind. 

    "I was kind of aiming for a sound like that and I just twisted it into my own flavor," says Thompson, 24, who hails from Newark and lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. 

    This isn't the first time Gauge has gotten attention for his music. His track "NY to Jerz" got played on Hot 97. More recently, he linked up with Wayne-based RGF Productions (Real Good Fellas), which launched Paterson's Fetty Wap to the top of the charts in 2015 with the hit single "Trap Queen." 

    Gauge, who says he used to make his paper hustling on the streets and working at Home Depot, first met RGF CEO Frank "Nitt Da Gritt" Robinson when he was 17, when they were in Job Corps together in Edison. 

    "It's like a motivational song," Robinson says of "Star Ledger," echoing Gauge's sentiments. "A feel-good song."

    Discouraged by years without much success, Gauge had mostly given up before he decided to write lyrics inspired by the morning newspaper ritual. Later, he heard that music executive Kevin Liles, co-founder of 300 Entertainment -- the label that signed Fetty Wap -- liked the song. 

    "It started in the strip club in Elizabeth, at Angels," Gauge says of buzz around the track. "From there, other strip clubs wanted it. Now internet radio wants it." The strip club route worked for Fetty Wap's "Trap Queen," but it's hard to match that kind of heat (Fetty's debut single reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100). 

    "I just gotta work a little bit harder, get my numbers up," Gauge says. "Star Ledger" is out on iTunes, Tidal and Spotify. A music video (caution: link contains explicit content) featuring the newspaper was posted to YouTube this month. 

    While the song isn't topping charts -- "it's still growing, it's sprouting," Gauge says -- "getting paid off the The Star-Ledger" isn't so bad, he says. 

    "Me being a Jersey native, I'm representing for the culture."

    His children, Quamir, 10, and Zakyra, 4, love the tune (he keeps a video of the kids bouncing around to it at the ready) and he was excited to find fans had posted videos of themselves dancing to the song on social media.

    "It's the beat, the vibe, the energy," Gauge says, demonstrating a move he uses in his performances, a staccato stretch that conjures the act of getting out of bed. 

    But the rapper isn't pinning all of his hopes on music. He's also a budding actor, intent on pursuing acting school in New York. He appeared in "The Drop," a film that premiered in Paterson on March 8 that was produced and written by Robinson and Fetty Wap that features the Paterson rapper, collaborator Remy Boy Monty, and their RGF peers Guwii Kidz. He also made a small appearance in the 2016 film "King of Newark" with Clifton Powell ("Ray").

    "I'm in my comfort zone when I'm around Hollywood stars," he says. (They're getting paper like the Star-Ledger.)


    Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @AmyKup or on Facebook.


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    Hundreds marched Saturday in New Jersey to push lawmakers to adopt gun control legislation. Here are some of the boldest signs.

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    Ali Muhammad Brown, 34, admitted to robbing a Point Pleasant Beach coffee shop days after killing a Livingston man.

    The man who killed Brendan Tevlin three years ago in a terror-inspired slaying has admitted to another separate armed robbery in Ocean County that happened just days after the murder. 

    Ali Muhammad Brown, 34, of Seattle, Washington, pleaded guilty Friday to robbery and weapons possession charges in connection to a 2014 incident in Point Pleasant Beach, the Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato said in a release.

    Brown admitted to approaching Harold Fournier outside of the Green Planet Coffee Shop on June 29, 2014, the release said. Brown demanded Fouriner go with him while displaying a handgun that was tucked into his waistband, according to authorities.

    Fournier instead, ran inside the coffee shop screaming for help, according to the release. Brown then ordered the victim and others to the ground at gunpoint demanding the victim's keys, cellphone and wallet.

    Fouriner handed over his keys and wallet, but Brown was couldn't drive away because he could drive a manual transmission car.

    Brown then fled to Essex County where he committed another armed robbery, for which he was tried and convicted.

    Just days before the armed robberies, Brown killed Livingston native Tevlin at a traffic light in West Orange. 

    Brown is scheduled to be sentenced on May 11, 2018. The state is seeking a life sentence without parole. 

    Brown is currently serving a 37-year sentence for the Essex County robbery, and he also faces life in prison without parole for charges of terrorism, murder, robbery and associated weapons offenses stemming from Tevlin's death.

    Brown will then await extradition to the State of Washington, where he is charged in the murder of three people. He confessed to those murders when he pleaded guilty in Telvin's death. 

    Olivia Rizzo may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @LivRizz. Find on Facebook

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    Lange pleaded guilty to possession of 81 decks of heroin in December after missing a court date. Police arrested him in May of 2017 after stopping him on the Garden State Parkway. Officers said Lange had heroin in his lap.

    "Crashing" star Artie Lange said his latest court appearance over a May 12 drug possession arrest "went great."

    The 50-year-old comedian was originally supposed to be sentenced in February, but that date was pushed back when Lange was hospitalized for issues related to diabetes.

    "Just out of court. It went great. It was a pre-sentence interview. I saw the judge who is very fair," Lange tweeted after leaving Superior Court in Newark on Friday morning. "She said I looked better! The interview went well. So I'm praying for probation but I will respectfully do what they tell me to do!"


    In December, Lange pleaded guilty to possession of 81 decks of heroin after State Police arrested him on the Garden State Parkway. Officers said Lange had been driving erratically in a parking lot at a McDonald's in Bloomfield. Police said that when they stopped Lange, they found the comedian with a straw and a bag of heroin in his lap. 

    Lange had been arrested a total of three times in 2017. In March of that year, he was arrested outside his Hoboken home after police said they found him with heroin and cocaine. He was also arrested in December after he missed a court date connected to the May arrest, then spent a short time in Essex County Jail

    The comedian, who grew up in Union Township, spent about two weeks in rehab after his stint in jail, his lawyer, Frank Arleo, told NJ Advance Media. Lange, who has talked about drug use, relapse and rehab in his act as a stand-up comedian, tweeted about being "sober 32 days" in January.

    Lange's real-life struggles with drug addiction have also been a plot point on HBO's "Crashing." This past season, one episode in particular was dedicated to Lange's character relapsing after vowing to stay clean.

    Lange is scheduled to be sentenced on May 18. 

    At the time of Lange's guilty plea, Arleo, Lange's lawyer, said they worked out an agreement that would allow the comedian to avoid jail time.

    "The deal is he's going to get probation," he said. "There probably will be drug treatment or testing."

    Several corrections and additions were made to this article, including the date of Lange's arrest and the charges connected with his recent court appearance. Lange was not in Superior Court for charges related to his Hoboken arrest. 

    Olivia Rizzo may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @LivRizz. Find on Facebook 

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    New Jersey protests embrace all ages and races

    The old lions were gathered at the side of the stage where Sarah Emily Baum was delivering her speech.

    They had front row seats among the 5,000 or so people gathered in Newark's Military Park during the largest anti-gun violence "March for Our Lives" event in the state Saturday.

    As this slight young woman -- a Marlboro High School senior no more than 5-foot-3 and 100-pounds spoke with a force and passion about gun violence that drew the rapt attention of the crowd -- the old lions smiled approvingly. They had been waiting 20 years for a moment like this.

    MORE: Recent Mark Di Ionno columns

    And as young Ms. Baum built a seasoned preacher's rhythm to her speech, the old lions of the Newark anti-gun violence movement applauded as wildly as the rest of the crowd.

    "We march to send a message to our lawmakers: Enough is enough," Baum said.

    That was one of the slogans of the Newark Anti-Violence Coalition (NAVC) started by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka almost 10 years ago.

    "We march for the Parkland 17 and for the 13,000 children lost to gun violence each," Baum said.

    One of the co-founders of the NAVC, Weequahic history teacher Bashir Akinyele has had 46 of his students murdered over a 20-year period.

    "We march because gun violence is a public health epidemic," she said. "School shootings are not the illness, they are a single symptom. We march because our government defunded critical CDC (Center for Disease Control) research on gun violence that would save tens of thousands of lives."

    Urban groups like the NAVC have been asking for gun violence -- and the costs associated with it -- to be viewed as a public health problem from the time the funding was killed in 1996 during the Bill Clinton administration.

    "We march because too many children have had to scrape friends' bodies from the asphalt beside schoolyards and playgrounds," Baum said.

    It was 2007, when Newark four college students were shot execution-style in the Mount Vernon School playground by members of the MS-13 gang. The "Enough is Enough" cries started strong but eventually faded out.

    Larry Hamm and other members of the Newark-based People's Organization for Progress held a large sign "Stop the Violence" sign that was as old as Sarah Baum.

    "That sign is 18 years old," Hamm said.

    He has been protesting violence even longer, since 1993.

    Hamm, along with "The Street Doctor" Earl Best, Rev. Thomas Ellis, and Zayid Muhammad of the NAVC, were among the old lions who all had the same opinion of the march.

    "I've been dreaming about this for 18 years," said Best, a charismatic figure who has spent his life trying to reach and better Newark's youth.

    "We've been at this a long time," said Muhammad, whose group has protested at the scene of a Newark homicide every week since 2009, drawing their own few-dozen members and family members of the those killed. "To see this, all these people, well, it's about time."

    When Baum came off the stage, she posed for pictures with these groups behind their banners. It was all part of the "intersectionality" of suburbs and cities, school shootings and urban violence.

    "Gun violence knows no color," said Princess Sabaroche, a senior at North Star Academy in Newark, who, like Baum, was an organizer of the event.

    "The pain that the people in Parkland are feeling is the same pain that the citizens of Newark go through daily," she said.

    Chartered buses from the suburbs began pulling into Military Park at 9 a.m., while NJ Transit trains carried marchers into Penn Station and Broad Street Station.

    The speakers stand was set up on the NJPAC side of the park, in the shadow of the Trinity and St. Phillip's Cathedral, which predates the American Revolution by more than 50 years. The crowd gathered on the lawn between the church and Gutzon Borglum's colossal "Wars of America" sculpture.

    With the backdrop of a colonial church, Baraka's mother, Amina Baraka, sounded like a Founding Father herself when she encouraged the crowd to "restore Civics" in the classroom and "study the Constitution of the United States of America."

    "Resist tyranny!" she said as her parting words.

    It was a crowd as demographic as the nation itself with people of every age and color. While students from 29 urban and suburban high schools organized the event with the support of several women's groups, there seemed to be more adults in the crowd than kids.

    "I'm marching for my grandchildren," said one sign.

    "The most lethal weapon a teacher should carry is a red pen," said another.

    "I should be reading books not eulogies," said another.

    There were professional banners of organizations and signs drawn in the hand of elementary school kids.

    And this one captured the feeling of the day, made by a woman with a student coalition from Bloomfield, Montclair and Nutley.

    "You are leaders. We've been waiting for you."

    Essex County Executive Joe Di Vincenzo, moving through the crowd, seconded that opinion.

    "Adults have failed these kids," he said. "They're amazing. They're going to take over. They're going to vote for people who support and respond to the them."

    Zachary Dougherty, a Toms River North High School junior, enlightened the crowd on National Rifle Association political donations saying it had "contributed $5.9 million in (campaign donations) in the 2016 election cycle alone," a number that is constant over the last 20 years.

    "Our generation will no longer tolerate public servants who heed the demand of the gun lobby," he said.

    Dougherty introduced Gov. Phil Murphy, who warned the crowd to "never underestimate the power of the gun lobby," but implored them to show "muscle and strength" to keep at it and "win elections."

    That remains to be seen. But this new partnership between cities and suburbs and blacks and whites could be the start of real gun reform.

    If nothing else, it should send this message to the leaders of the gun lobby: The youthful and energized lions sneaking through the grass threatening your Second Amendment rights is not the government -- it's crime and mass shootings, and the people fed up with both.

    And the NRA and the gun manufacturers that support it should think about strategies of reform before they're faced with repeal.

    Mark Di Ionno may be reached at Follow The Star-Ledger on Twitter @StarLedger and find us on Facebook.  

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    The victim died after an incident on Springfield Avenue.

    Authorities were investigating a homicide in Maplewood Saturday night.

    Katherine Carter of the Essex County Prosecutor's Office confirmed that her office was looking into the killing.

    She said the victim died after an incident on Springfield Avenue around 8:30 p.m.

    Both Carter and Maplewood police said that no more information was immediately available Saturday night.

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find on Facebook.

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    One woman died while another was in critical but stable condition.

    IRVINGTON, N.J. (AP) -- Law enforcement officials in New Jersey say a 42-year-old man has been charged in connection with a double shooting that left one woman dead.

    Irvington police and Essex County prosecutors say the women were shot at a residence on Saturday. Twenty-seven-year-old Adrianna Rodriguez, of Newark, died from her injuries. A second woman who was shot is in critical but stable condition at a hospital.

    Euclide D. Valerio-Guzman, of Irvington, has been charged with murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault and weapons charges. It wasn't immediately known if he's represented by a lawyer who can comment on his case.


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    In a recent interview with NJ Advance Media, University Hospital Board Chairman Robert Johnson predicted the city's rising economic fortunes would pay off in a healthier population.

    He was already Dean of the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, a pediatrics professor and a doctor who still sees patients at nights and on weekends. So why would Robert Johnson also agree to chair University Hospital's Board of Trustees?

    He didn't exactly have a choice.

    One of Gov. Chris Christie's final acts before he left office in mid-January was to designate Johnson chairman. Johnson replaces former Gov. Donald DiFrancesco, who resigned amid questions about the duties of his former assistant.

    Johnson is a good fit, having been there at the hospital's beginnings at its central ward location and understanding where it needs to go in the future.

    In 1972, he graduated from the medical school he now runs, and has devoted his career to improving the health of the city's residents.

    "I was here before the first shovel went into the ground" when the construction on the hospital's current location began in 1977, Johnson said. "I was a student, a resident, and a faculty member there training the students, so I know how important University Hospital has been to the health of this whole state. It's been a safety net for people in this city for 100 years, and it has done a fine job doing that."

    In a recent interview, Johnson described how the city's rising economic fortunes would translate into better health for Newark residents, as well a path to mitigate University Hospital's chronic financial struggles.

    At age 71, Johnson said he can't imagine retiring -- not when efforts to combat some of the city's most stubborn health threats are paying off. 

    "I work out seven days a week. I'm in the gym every morning at 5 o'clock," he said, a broad smile creasing his face. "I feel great...I cannot imagine not doing this."

    Digging out of a hole

    University Hospital is the only public acute-care hospital in the state. The 467-bed institution relocated 40 years ago to city-donated land with a mission: to help Newark recover from the 1967 riots by meeting the city's public health needs. 

    The financial cost of that legacy is steep.

    The hospital spent $48 million -- more than any of the 71 other hospitals in the state -- to treat uninsured patients in 2016, according to the most recent state figures. The hospital will receive $48 million in charity care reimbursement this year, according to the state Health Department.

    The hospital also has historically received a special appropriation to cover costs, such as the $33 million the state is sending this year to cover pension costs.

    In Fiscal Year 2018, the Hospital's operating budget is $666.5 million with a loss of approximately $36 million, said Board member Annette Catino, the finance committee chairwoman. But that's $11 million less than last year, she said. The hospital's success in meeting quality standards programs, such as in reducing admissions for Medicare patients, has earned it more federal aid, she said.

    Johnson credits hospital CEO John N. Kastanis and his management team with finding ways to save money. "Things are looking up. Our bond rating is up," he added. 

    (The state Health Care Facilities Financing Authority extended University Hospital $255 million in bonds in 2015. In November, Fitch Ratings affirmed the hospital's "BBB" rating, which means expectations of default risk are low.)  

    When asked whether he envisioned a time when University Hospital would not be in the red, Johnson replied with a question.

    "Do we envision a time in which indigent people have health care?" Johnson said. The political climate on Capitol Hill strongly suggests the answer is no, he said.

    "In reality, we will continue to have communities within our country who do not have insurance and won't be able to get the care they need," Johnson said.

    RobertJohnson.jpgRobert Johnson discusses the health issues facing Newark. (Jeff Granit | For NJ Advance Media)

    Choosing not to compete

    An influential 2015 study by Navigant Consulting concluded there were too many hospital beds in the Newark area to be economically feasible.

    Look for University to compete less and rethink which services it will continue to offer, Johnson said.

    "We need to identify our real competitors, because I think our real competitors are... across the Hudson River and Delaware River."

    Hospital officials are in talks to transfer their inpatient pediatric beds to Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, part of the RWJBarnabas Health system, because the demand has plummeted. The decline was so significant, it forced Rutgers, New Jersey Medical School to cancel the recruitment of first year pediatric residents for the 2018 program year," University Hospital spokesman Richard Remington said.  

    If this occurs, "we anticipate placing nearly all of our current inpatient pediatric staff in new positions," Remington added.

    Since 2013, RWJBarnbas has had a management consulting agreement with University Hospital. Expect that relationship to grow, Johnson said.

    "There's going to be some type relationship with the Barnabas System. Right now it's not absolutely clear," he said. (A takeover or merger is not under discussion, as University is a public hospital, he said.)

    "There has to be a reorganization of hospitals in this city," Johnson said. "We do need to have some way of providing the care to the people who need it. We do not need to duplicate all of those things all over the city."

    The demand for "high-cost care" -- surgerical procedures, treating people with serious infectious diseases, and trauma care -- remain strong, he said. These are mainstays for the hospital.

    As medical school dean and board chairman, Johnson said his goal is to grow the number of primary care doctors. "We don't have a lot of private practices in the city," he said.

    Listen, N.J. We're changing Newark's bad rep, Mayor Baraka says

    Newark's promising prognosis

    Over the arc of his career, Johnson has seen the steady decline in Newark of teen pregnancy, HIV infections and crime. More recently, these improvements have overlapped a period of economic rebirth, as Whole Foods and have opened their doors in Newark. In his State of the City address Wednesday, Mayor Ras Baraka boasted there's $4 billion worth of development in the pipeline.

    "It's not all about doctors and nurses and hospitals. It's things like schools, housing and employment -- all of these things are important and the hospital has to work with the community. 

    "We are at point where we see a positive future, and that is something that will result in more jobs, and more jobs will lead to better (health) care."

    Susan K. Livio may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @SusanKLivio. Find Politics on Facebook.

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    Gov. Phil Murphy appeared on a radio show the day after speaking at a March for Our Lives event in Newark. Watch video

    A day after taking part in the March for Our Lives, Gov. Phil Murphy said Sunday morning that he "walked away with optimism" but warned that "we can't underestimate" the National Rifle Association. 

    The Democrat also said the fight for more gun control is not just about ending school shootings but the "daily drumbeat of violence" in cities like Newark. 

    "This ain't over," Murphy said during an appearance on New York City radio station WBLS 107.5-FM. "This is one major step in the right direction. But there are a lot of steps to come. And elections have consequences."

    Hundreds of thousands of people took part in marches across the world Saturday to call for more gun-control laws in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting and other recent gun massacres. 

    Murphy spoke at a march in Newark, the most populous city in New Jersey. 

    READ: Highlights of March for Our Lives around the globe

    During the radio interview. Murphy repeated his vow to "sign all the gun laws" his Republican predecessor, Gov. Chris Christie, vetoed.

    Six bills to tighten New Jersey's gun laws are up for votes in the state Assembly on Monday. Hours after his speech Saturday, Murphy released a statement saying he is "committed" to these bills passing "so I can sign them into law." 

    But, Murphy said Sunday, there needs to be new national laws because 80 percent of gun crimes committed in New Jersey come from out of state. 

    Phil Murphy March for Our LivesGov. Phil Murphy speaks Saturday at the Newark March for Life rally. 

    He suggested that means fighting against the NRA, which he called "the most successful lobbying group in the history of our country."

    "We have to hold Congress' feet to the fire," Murphy said. "The NRA is a formidable foe. We cannot underestimate them. I think if the next generation stays with it, we will break their back and beat this lobby." 

    Meanwhile, a caller told Murphy that gun violence happens more frequently in cities. The governor said the new laws need to address all of it.

    "God bless every life lost to gun violence," Murphy said. "Period, full stop."

    The NRA opposes new gun laws, saying they would violate the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and make it harder for people to protect themselves. 

    Many Republican lawmakers often oppose more gun-control legislation for similar reasons. 

    Amid the marches Saturday, the NRA took to social media to denounce the movement. 

    "Stand and fight for our kids' safety by joining NRA," the group said in a video on Facebook. "Today's protests aren't spontaneous. Gun-hating billionaires and Hollywood elites are manipulating and exploiting children as part of their plan to destroy the Second Amendment and strip us of our right to defend ourselves and our loved ones."

    Brent Johnson may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01. Find Politics on Facebook.

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    Two cars were involved but remained on the scene, authorities said.

    A man was struck and killed Sunday while trying to cross the Garden State Parkway in East Orange, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said. 

    The man has not been identified. 

    The incident happened shortly around 11:30 p.m. on the northbound lanes of the Garden State Parkway, State Police said. 

    According to State Police, three cars --  a Volkswagen, a Hyundai and a Ford -- struck the pedestrian. All three drivers remained on the scene and were cooperating with authorities. 

    Sgt. Lawrence Peele said police were still investigating the incident and did not know why a pedestrian was trying to cross the Garden State Parkway.

    Karen Yi may be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook


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    The Essex County Prosecutor's Office said Altariq A. Brown, 30, of Livingston was killed on Saturday.

    Authorities have identified the man killed in Maplewood shooting Saturday night as a 30-year-old from Livingston. 

    Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino and Acting Maplewood Police Chief Jimmy DeVaul said Altariq A. Brown was fatally shot at a restaurant on Springfield Avenue around 8:30 p.m. The restaurant was not named. 

    The investigation is ongoing and additional information was not released. 

    Karen Yi may be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook


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    Consider adopting one of these homeless dogs and cats.

    If you're interested in helping homeless animals but aren't able to adopt one, there are a number of other ways you can be of assistance.

    Realistically, not everyone can adopt. People who live in apartments or developments that have no-pets policies fall into that category, as do people with allergies or disabilities that will not allow them to care for pets of their own. Here are some suggestions for ways people who want to help can participate in caring for homeless animals.

    * Help out at a local shelter. It's not glamorous work by any means, but it's vital and will be very much appreciated. You can do anything from help walk dogs to bottle feed kittens, help clean kennels or cat's cages or even help with bathing and grooming. Contact your local shelter to find out their policies regarding volunteers.

    * If you're handy, you can lend a hand in many ways. Shelters usually need repairs of many kinds, so fixer-uppers can help out like that. If you sew, quilt or crochet, you can make blankets for your local shelter.

    * Help out at an adoption event. Many shelters and rescue groups participate in local events by hosting a table with pets available for adoption. They also hold these program at malls, pet supply stores and banks, and can always use a helping hand.

    * For galleries like this one and for online adoptions sites, often a shelter or rescue group doesn't have the time or equipment to shoot good photos of their adoptable pets, Something as simple as making yourself available to shoot and provide digital files of pet photos can be a big help.

    * Donate. It doesn't have to be money; shelters need cleaning supplies, pet food, toys for the animals and often even things we don't think twice about getting rid of like old towels and newspapers. Every little bit helps.

    If you don't know where your local animal shelter or rescue group is, a quick online search will reveal a number of results. It doesn't take a lot of time or effort to get involved but it provides immeasurable assistance.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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    Gov. Phil Murphy said Sunday the Urban Enterprise Zone program is "smart policy."

    Gov. Phil Murphy's first state budget proposal includes a slight increase to New Jersey's sales tax. 

    But on Sunday, Murphy suggested he supports expanding a program aiming to boost struggling cities by cutting the sales tax in those places in half, among other incentives.

    Murphy made the comments while appearing on New York City radio station WBLS 107.5-FM when a caller asked him if he backs the Urban Enterprise Zone program. 

    "It's smart policy," the Democrat responded. "It gets action in downtown areas. It's a good economic proposition and it's particularly good for our urban communities." 

    "We're big UEZ fans," Murphy added. 

    Christie rejects sales tax cut for 5 N.J. cities

    It had been unclear where Murphy stood on expanding the program. While he didn't directly mention either bill Sunday, the governor said there "good legislation moving through right now" related to it. 

    The program has been in place since 1983, and about 6,800 businesses across the state take part. It was originally supposed to sunset 20 years after its creation, but state lawmakers voted in 2001 to extend it another 16 years. 

    That ended last year. And Murphy's Republican predecessor, Gov. Chris Christieallowed the program to expire for the original five cities that took part: Bridgeton, Camden, Newark, Plainfield, and Trenton. 

    Christie said the program faced "apathetic participation" and delivered a "devastating impact on state revenues without any demonstrable benefit" to the cities.

    Other cities that joined the program later continue to take part, though their designations are set to end between 2019 and 2026.

    The Democratic-controlled state Legislature is now considering legislation that would reinstate the program in those five cities and extend the program for another 10 years. 

    "Urban Enterprise Zones have been an integral part of urban revitalization for many years now," state Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, D-Hudson, said when the bill (A3549) was approved by an Assembly panel last week. "Extending their designation will help many cities remain economically competitive while spurring job growth and economic development."

    Another bill (A3551) would direct the New Jersey UEZ Authority to review the program and issue a report about it to Murphy and the Legislature. 

    Murphy -- who succeeded Christie in January -- unveiled his first state budget plan earlier this month. It includes reversing a deal Christie made last year to reduce the state's sales tax from 7 percent to 6.875. 

    Murphy called Christie's move a "gimmick" and is proposing bringing the tax back to 7 percent to raise revenue for the state. 

    Brent Johnson may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01. Find Politics on Facebook.

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    Eduardo Perez admitted to the hit-and-run crash that killed Mujahid Henry days before he would have received his diploma from Rutgers-Newark

    A 34-year-old New Jersey man who was drunk when he struck and killed a recent Rutgers-Newark graduate in a hit-and-run crash last year was has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

    Eduardo Perez, of Elizabeth won't be eligible for parole until he's served at least 85 percent of the sentence, the Union County Prosecutor's Office said in a statement.

    Screen Shot 2017-05-13 at 9.37.08 AM.pngMujahid Henry

    Perez pleaded guilty in January to second-degree vehicular manslaughter and drunken driving in the crash that killed Mujahid Henry, 23, of Newark, on May 12.

    Henry's death came shortly before he was to receive his diploma from Rutgers-Newark. His father, Darryl Henry, accepted his son's degree five days after the hit-and-run.

    Perez was speeding in a 2007 Ford Escape on the wrong side of East Linden Avenue when he struck Henry at 12:30 a.m. on May 12. The impact threw Henry into a parked car. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

    N.J. toughens drunken driving penalties for those who kill

    Police arrested Perez after he struck several parked cars on Lidgerwood Avenue in Elizabeth and abandoned his SUV.

    Investigators determined Perez's blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit of .08 and found an empty bottle of Cognac in the vehicle.

    Perez, who was on probation and driving with a suspended license, had previous convictions for robbery and aggravated assault.

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find on Facebook.


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    Newark Public Schools has sold 11 of the 12 buildings to developers and a charter school.

    0 0 highlights the best players in N.J. from the 2017-18 season.

    0 0 looks at the top returning hitters in New Jersey baseball for the 2018 season.

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