ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — An Atlantic City community activist who had planned to lead protesters Friday in painting “Black Lives Matter” on the seaside gambling resort’s historic Boardwalk says they no longer plan to do so. Instead, Steve Young said he will accept Mayor Marty Small’s invitation to participate in a city-sponsored event Friday afternoon where the words will be painted onto the pavement of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in front of the city’s Civil Rights Garden.

“We will not be painting anything on the Boardwalk,” Young told The Associated Press Thursday night. “We want everyone to stand with us in peace and non-violence.”

Young said his event will go on as planned at 1 p.m. in front of Boardwalk Hall, except for the painting component.

“We are proud to be part of the Black Lives Matter movement and part of that statement being made,” he said.

Faced with the prospect of protesters defacing the Boardwalk, which Small said would be illegal, the mayor on Wednesday announced the city would hold its own event in which the movement’s slogan would be painted prominently in a public place, hoping to co-opt the protest.

The city event is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Young’s announcement that no one would attempt to paint on the Boardwalk appears to have reduced the likelihood of confrontation.

There have been three racial justice demonstrations in Atlantic City this year. The first, on May 31, was followed by theft and property destruction for which about 100 people were charged. A second on June 6 was peaceful.

Young organized the July 4 protest as the casinos were permitted to reopen after more than three months of being shut due to the coronavirus outbreak. He was among seven people arrested when marchers tried to block the entrance of the Atlantic City Expressway, the main route to the city and its casinos.

The city is trying to strip Young of two city posts he holds as a consequence of the July 4 protest, whose stated goal was to “shut the city down.”

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