The Fog of Protest: A story about race, police, and politics in Jersey City and America

Real Jersey City publisher Michael Shurin shares some of his observations on race, police, and politics following a recent protest in Jersey City.

The Fog of Protest - Jersey City

A picture of Jersey City worth more than a thousand words.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, a skeptic for sure, but I’ve got a true story about Jersey City, seen through the fog of protest, which Mayor Steven Fulop and the local political establishment probably don’t want you to hear.

A really long story because the picture you see above is worth more than a thousand words (nearly 6,000, to be specific), and because I want to help elevate the conversation about race, politics, and police from the silly notion that America’s current crisis can be solved with hugs, hashtags, and community policing, rather than changing the laws and practices which fuel negative interactions and perceptions.

I’m also having a hard time expressing my thoughts on a complex issue in less than a thousand words, and because my thoughts about modern America don’t fit well with the narratives of #BlackLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter, or any other major political movement (including all the candidates that ran for president this year).

Now, if you haven’t watched the full video of the rally, march, and protest, I would suggest reading this first for some context.

In addition, before I begin covering the stories within the protest, I just want to quickly cover a recent mural controversy. Three weeks ago, a few of the protesters you’re about to see spoke out at a city council meeting and had a piece of art altered that offended them – they saw it as reinforcing the image of children of color in prison.

In short, I’m not someone overly concerned about people being offended by a mural, though I could see where the speakers were coming from. The problem is that it stopped being about art the moment it was altered to appease police unions, due to a cop being represented as a pig, and I could see where they’re coming from too.

However, if you think of yourself as a liberal or progressive, and were angry when mostly black women made their voice heard, but had little-to-nothing to say about the police unions (whose voice truly dominates in Jersey City) – I suggest you better recognize your own racism before you point fingers at Donald Trump supporters.

Some of those same speakers are the type of people consoling kids hours after a school shooting, while leaders like Public Safety Director James Shea and city spokesperson Jennifer Morrill would literally be at a bar partying with the Jersey City Police Superior Officers Association (JCPSOA) and Sgt. Vincent Corso.

The same Corso that once fatally shot a teenager hours after being in a bar, was involved in the assault of a sheriff’s officer, got caught drinking in uniform, and supposedly took a nap on-duty in the back of Lincoln Park. Also, the same Corso that Mayor Fulop obviously protected after he was apparently driving drunk and resisted being disarmed of his loaded gun by Robbinsville, NJ police officers.

So, for me, once the artist admitted that it would be altered to not offend the police, regardless of the stage of the process, it quickly became just another politicized marketing project courtesy of taxpayers, developers, and special improvement districts – kind of like Chicpea.

I would feel bad that the artist’s speech was censored, but he still got a paycheck, something I haven’t been getting for this website – that’s why material is few and far between – since I decided not to compromise my integrity. To better understand the perspective I’m writing from, because perspective is key:

– Like I said when I started this website, there’s nothing really Jersey City about me, I’m only someone trying to report on what’s really going on in Jersey City.

– No person is perfect, I’m certainly far from it, and one thing I’m often guilty of is shamelessly promoting my work. Unfortunately, because the establishment media is more concerned with protecting the corrupt, it has become a necessary evil that I have to do, and I don’t judge others for doing the same (unless it involves major hypocrisy).

– I’m not a cop, I’m not black, I’m not a social justice warrior, but let’s just say I’m writing from a secular point of view. I hope, for humanity’s sake, that some day race and religion will be more historical concept than social construct.

– I’m neither a revolutionary nor a role model, I merely wish to abolish terrible government policies that hurt decent people and destroy entire communities (especially the prohibition of narcotics, commonly referred to as The War on Drugs).

– I’m someone that’s heavily invested into holding police unions accountable for their behavior, unlike Mayor Steven Fulop, the entire Jersey City Council, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31), and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33).

– I know white liberal racism in Jersey City is a very real thing, it includes people that aren’t white liberals but have assimilated with them, and it goes unchecked.

Black Women – Holding It Down or Playing Politics?

Takeisha Stewart - Jennifer Watterman - Pamela Johnson - Asheenia Johnson

Takeisha Stewart – Jennifer Watterman – Pamela Johnson – Asheenia Johnson

I know I’m going to get in trouble for this, but it’s best I just directly address the main characters being privately accused of playing politics (for subliminal commentary, please read the Alston Chronicles).

Let me start by saying, regardless of politics, the women above have a track record I’ve personally documented. If you’re prone to say “why don’t they protest black-on-black violence,” these aren’t the women to direct that question to, but you may want to ask yourself what you’re doing to address black-on-black violence (or white-on-white violence).

That said, politics is politics, and some within the black community had challenged me to call them out for, among other things, engaging in a political stunt.

For instance, Takeisha Stewart, the person who started the call for a rally following two fatal police shootings garnering national outrage, was criticized for her close relationship with Assemblywoman Angela McKnight.

In her defense, she was speaking out long before McKnight was even on the radar for elected office, including discussing how the fatal shooting of Lavon King by JCPD Officer Kenneth Bowes personally affected her.

Where I gained respect for Stewart was from a comment she wrote during a tense Facebook exchange about the protest, an exchange that highlighted just how politically divided the black community is. She had no problem admitting she doesn’t know about certain policies and procedures, so she stays in her lane and tries to learn instead of claiming to be something she’s not – while obviously supporting whatever McKnight does (which is human nature because of their close relationship).

Jersey City needs the energy and passion Stewart brings as a constant activist, and I can guarantee she’s doing some big things I cannot discuss at this moment (although I hope to assist her at some point). Unfortunately, by supporting McKnight – a political ally of police unions by virtue of her role in the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) – some of that energy is not being used for a policy agenda that addresses what spurred the protest.

Meanwhile, Pamela Johnson, of the Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition Movement, was criticized by some for using the event to promote herself. If she wasn’t there, those same people would be criticizing her for not supporting others in the community.

Either way it’s sliced, the fact people are discussing her moves is a reflection of the success she’s had.

Furthermore, to the best of my knowledge, she hasn’t profited from her community outreach and organizing work, but haters are going to hate, and maybe some simply don’t want to see an independent black woman succeed.

As of now, all I know is that she’s on the Jersey City Public Safety Advisory Board, but if she’s running for city council, or even mayor, isn’t she doing exactly what we would want any community leader preparing for elected office to do?

Nevertheless, even if she’s not planning on running, now that she’s built a following and has garnered media attention, she needs a real policy platform to present to the public with the Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition Movement.

Generic political rhetoric ultimately leads to the status quo, smart public policy and meaningful actions ultimately lead to positive outcomes.

My point is that I’ve seen a few politicians and activists console Dawn Felton, mother of Kwadir Felton, like Pamela did during the protest. What I haven’t seen is anyone do something besides consoling.

Jennifer Watterman, of Operation Take Back JC, and daughter of Councilwoman-at-Large Joyce Watterman, is really where the political conflicts begin.

First, to dispel any rumors, it was likely Eugene McKnight, an infamous political operative supported by Mayor Fulop, and a mentor and relative of Angela McKnight, that called to warn the fundraiser that protesters were headed their way.

Jersey City Political Operative Eugene McKnight

Jersey City Political Operative Eugene McKnight

Given that Watterman’s mother has carried a lot of water on the city council for the Fulop Administration, many whispered that she only made a call to protest at the mayor’s fundraiser after receiving the OK.

That’s a stupid conspiracy theory. She actually shocked me for being one of the first, if not the loudest, to call for a march to the fundraiser. She also didn’t hold back how she felt, including some commentary that would make many white liberal supporters of the Fulop Administration cringe.

Jen Watterman, yeah, she said it.

All that said, if she wants to dispel the notion that her political activity will be converted into a positive for Team Fulop and the HCDO, she should use her relationship with her mother to do something bigger than altering murals.

For example – I once requested that the city council hold an independent investigation, within their power under the Faulkner Act, into the management of Sgt. Corso’s infamous night in Robbinsville. At the time, Councilwoman Watterman was quick to stop Ward D Councilman Michael Yun from inquiring into the possibility of such an investigation because it was a “personnel matter.”

While I’m not asking the younger Watterman to push the issues I’ve exposed, imagine if the same energy she used to alter a mural was directed towards asking the city council to vote on a resolution. A resolution which would commission a study into the policies and practices of the Jersey City Police Department, examining for potential racial bias, among other issues, to understand the systemic problems which need to be addressed.

Actually, I’m not going to imagine, because I know something that real would never go down.

Finally, there’s Asheenia Johnson. All I have to say is that she’s gone HCDO with a job in both the Fulop Administration and a spot on McKnight’s assembly staff, as well as a member of the Jersey City Public Safety Advisory Board.

I’m not hating on that, she could be doing some great things with those positions.

I’m not saying she can’t help usher change behind the scenes.

I’m saying that I don’t see a comprehensive effort to change what everyone was protesting by the people she works for. Maybe at the first (actually open to the public) public safety board meeting we’ll see her holding Director James Shea and police leadership accountable for any misconduct.

Until then, to paraphrase President Obama, it’s nice to pop off at a protest, but who has the plan?

Snitches Saves Lives

Snitches Save Lives

Snitches Save Lives

If there were a moment during the protest that I sincerely wanted to cry, it was watching the kid above holding the “snitches saves lives” poster.

I don’t want to hurt his feelings, because he seemed like a great kid, but I could bet some of his peers have not been nice to him. Some of those kids not being nice are probably causing violence and fear throughout the community, especially for other youth.

I understand why he would feel the way he does, especially because he’s probably never participated in criminal activity, but snitches don’t save lives. Snitches are criminal informants that are of no benefit to the community. If anything, snitching created different classes of criminal – those protected by law enforcement and those not.

When ex-West New York Commissioner Ruben Vargas snitched on ex-Councilman Khemraj “Chico” Ramchal for a no-show job, did it save any lives? No, just a kiss on the cheek from my secret crush.

Witnessing crime could save lives. Exposing crime could save lives. Criminals putting other criminals in prison, so they don’t go to prison themselves or get reduced sentences, generally doesn’t save lives.

I condemn the violent behavior terrorizing Jersey City, but what often fuels the violence is the illegal drug market created by narcotics prohibition and a loss of humanity through a system of mass incarceration. Ending the drug war, subsequently removing the numerous opportunities for malfeasance it creates, will save a lot more lives than all the snitching and death it has caused.

A Black Man Rises

Chris Gadsen

Chris Gadsden – Lincoln High School Vice Principal and Community Activist

Quite frankly, regarding activism and elected leadership in Jersey City’s black community, black women overwhelmingly dominate. The protest was proof of that, as female speakers clearly outnumbered male speakers – though a man I didn’t know was dominating the bullhorn in front of the fundraiser.

When it comes to elected office, that’s partially by design of the white liberal HCDO power structure, but the lack of activism which can consistently be seen and heard from black men – social media doesn’t really count, sorry – is almost non-existent relative to women.

Don’t believe me? Besides the women I just mentioned, go to a regular or caucus Jersey City Board of Education (JCBOE) meeting and I guarantee you’ll see and hear Monique Andrews every time. Dr. Marcia Lyles, the black female superintendent who is often berated during Andrews’ public comments, will confirm it.

The list of black men elected to office representing Jersey City is two, Board of Education Member Lorenzo Richardson (an education activist with Andrews) and Freeholder Gerry Balmir, Jr. (unknown to many from Jersey City until the HCDO endorsed him). In addition, they have no actual influence with Fulop’s machine in power (in Balmir’s case, it’s because Fulop didn’t like his wife’s career choices).

In a city lacking black men in positions of power, Chris Gadsden, a 2013 Ward B city council candidate, might have the chance to change that in the upcoming special election for Ward B following Chico stepping down – if he chooses to run again.

Gadsden, an activist and member of The Royal Men Foundation, didn’t hide his thoughts when discussing police shootings in Jersey City, from Michael Anglin to Lavon King, and discussed some uncomfortable fears that exist between black men and police. If Gadsden should run and win, he would be in a position to lead an agenda of police accountability and reform in Jersey City.

The crazy thing is, that might really be his agenda – evidenced by his promotion of the recent Royal Men Foundation New Jim Crow Lecture Series. I just wonder what specific policies he would actually advocate for, if he could handle being grilled on the issues, and what the rest of his agenda would consist of.

Also, is there a big enough black community that could unite in Ward B and elect a candidate? Can other ethnic and community groups (especially those dominated by white liberals), support a black man running on a platform that prioritizes police accountability? Are there any other quality independent candidates running that will split the vote? Can anyone beat Freeholder Bill O’Dea’s political machine in Ward B?

2017 will definitely be interesting, 2016 could be interesting.

The Jersey City Police Department Response

JCPD officers handle protestors peacefully, but fail on community policing

JCPD officers handle protestors peacefully, but fail on community policing

2000-plus words later, and I’m just getting to the cops, who really didn’t do a great job in my opinion, although I saw some things I liked.

First, for all the talk of diversity and community policing from Fulop and public safety officials, this was a fail on many levels.

Let’s start with JCPD Sgt. Eddie Ortiz.

JCPD Sgt. Eddie Ortiz

JCPD Sgt. Eddie Ortiz

It’s not just Fulop, but politicians in cities across America are trying to “diversify” police forces under the false premise it will improve community relations. However well intentioned, the culture of police in America, much more than the color, is what needs change.

Let’s just say Ortiz wasn’t too friendly with the protestors, even yours truly as I respectfully filmed, and that’s not community policing.

While Ortiz may represent “diversity” as a Latino superior officer, is his mindset any better than the white police officers that preceded him? A small glimpse into his social media activity might give you a clue.

Sgt. Ortiz's Facebook Posts

Some of Sgt. Ortiz’s Facebook Posts

Also of interest was Jersey City police officer Michael Lang.

JCPD Officer Michael Lang

JCPD Officer Michael Lang

Lang, while off-duty, is infamous for being assaulted at a gas station in the heights, pulling out his gun, and eventually being charged with drunk driving, according to the Jersey Journal.

During the arrest, Lang refused to take a Breathalyzer test, but the charges were eventually dismissed, according to Lang’s lawsuit.

Yes, Lang is suing the city for the incident, claiming his arrest was political retaliation for his support of former Mayor Jeremiah Healy (even though Healy was still mayor at the time), allegedly directed by ex-Chief Robert Cowan (who wasn’t chief at the time).

Given all that, I hope he wins, because without #JusticeForMikeLang there can be no peace.

Also, on a completely different note, congratulations to Terrence McDonald of the Jersey Journal for doing an honest write-up on a JCPD lawsuit (I guess there’s a first for everything). It’s a big step up from the usual misinformation, like that piece about the Motorcycle Squad where he failed to mention Lt. Terrence Crowley’s alleged n-word and c-word Crash Review Evaluation report.

Or when the Jersey Journal waited until two weeks after the Corso dash cam video was released by Robbinsville to publish a story. On the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend, when news goes to die, while also burying the story of Corso killing a teenager in the article. It’s sad when CBS 3 Philadelphia is doing a better job covering Jersey City than the Jersey Journal.

See the difference?

The reporting by the Jersey Journal has been so pathetic that they’ve had to update articles 15 days after publishing (did they print a correction?), because they originally produced misinformation saying two, not three, of the four officers recently indicted had lawsuits against the city. Somehow, McDonald’s “reporting” on the Motorcycle Squad breaking up not only failed to mention the n-word and c-word report from the Chesler-Ascolese lawsuit, it completely forgot to mention officer Maietti’s lawsuit containing the same report.

Isn’t that shocking?

Not until I ranted on Facebook about the white liberal racism of the Jersey Journal did they publish the Maietti lawsuit and mention the alleged report. Although, for the record, they didn’t mention the exact terminology in the article or headline, completely opposite of the way they reported on a black female prison director accused of racism.

Yeah, the Jersey Journal isn’t a racist institution, and McDonald is a real honest journalist commenting on articles he didn’t write – explaining how they “missed” the story.

Terrence McDonald Comment

Terrence McDonald’s comment on lawsuit reporting.

More importantly, it’s that type of reporting from the Jersey Journal, like when they didn’t report Kenneth Bowes name until the day after I launched this website, which is why I’ve had to blur the line between journalist and activist.

I have to be proactive in exposing corruption, because the current Jersey Journal will always be proactive in covering up.

As well, they’re not only the gatekeepers of police corruption, tweets like the one below highlight how they often mock the concerns of those protesting.

Terrence McDonald Stop-and-Frisk Tweet

Terrence McDonald’s Stop-and-Frisk Tweet

So even though Fulop was running on a platform of broken windows policing, the question was a joke to a white liberal reporter. No real journalist would actually grill Fulop about stop-and-frisk, that’s not an important urban issue.

My only question – if it wasn’t an issue for mayoral candidates, why did McDonald write a headline about Shea helping to train NYPD cops in stop-and-frisk when Fulop picked him to be public safety director? That was a joke, right?

With all that being said, that’s barely scratching the surface of the Jersey Journal’s racism and corruption (and NJTV’s coverage of Jersey City might be even more questionable).

By the way, before I forget, speaking of Bowes.

JCPD Officer Kenneth Bowes

JCPD Officer Kenneth Bowes

Honestly, when he emerged from the crowd during the protest, it was borderline surreal. A police officer that killed a black man, walking peacefully, almost unnoticed, amongst a group protesting police officers killing black men.

I could only imagine what was running through his head, but you have to think he thought about King at one point. I hope Bowes has found peace with the situation, as well as King’s family, because there are no winners when cops kill citizens, or citizens kill cops.

Unlike some other police involved shootings in Jersey City, I ultimately believe the shooting of Lavon King was legally justified (link to PDF about the case has oddly been removed by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office). The only reason I hold that belief is because I have some faith in the U.S. Attorney General’s Office review, despite my distrust of government institutions.

I also know indicting Bowes for King’s death would have a chilling effect on JCPD officers being proactive when dealing with potentially dangerous individuals, something many Jersey City residents already feel they aren’t doing.

And as I wrote when I started this website, the fact that King died at the hands of a police officer is what makes his death more noteworthy than the average casualty of the drug war (and mass incarceration), especially when you consider the current politics of white police officers killing unarmed black men.

I’ve always felt the best way to lower fatal confrontations between black men and cops, like the Bowes-King encounter, is to the end the drug war. Less negative interactions, less chance of a situation going awfully bad – it’s that simple. It won’t solve every problem, but it’s a start, and will also help society stop looking at drug users as criminals.

Another good start is the employment of non-deadly weapons instead of guns, which I was kind of encouraged to see at the protest (even though there was absolutely no need). Below is JCPD Officer Joziph Soliman – Bowes’ partner when King died -who might have been following me at one point (though it could be paranoia), showcasing a paint ball gun.

JCPD Officer Joziph Soliman

JCPD Officer Joziph Soliman

At the same time, the reason I think the handling of the protest was a fail is because I’m pretty sure the amount of police and tactics used were completely unnecessary. A simple analysis of the crowd, and having some police officers who actually know the community, could’ve led to an outcome that didn’t include any type of negative confrontation.

Not only is community policing a farce for dealing with violent crime, but Jersey City’s inability to institute such policies was ultimately highlighted by a peaceful protest. Instead of connecting with the community, finding a way for the crowd to move on without confrontation, or Mayor Fulop showing some fortitude and coming outside to speak with the protestors, they displayed the potential of force to move the crowd.

Pathetic is an understatement, and the girls in the window below showed more courage hiding behind the curtains from my camera than the politicians hiding from being seen by the crowd.

gifs website

Well, there was actually one attempt at community policing, but it was so painfully awkward I’d rather not discuss. A picture of the attempt to communicate can be seen below, and it was done by a black female sergeant that appeared trapped between two worlds.

JCPD Community Policing

JCPD Community Policing

A Tale of Two Americas

Like I wrote earlier, perspective is key, and I’m about to add another.

I’m among the first in my family born in America, and I consider myself an American before any other nationality or ethnicity.

That being the case, I’m also aware of my history, as I’m a descendent of Russian Jews that emigrated from the Soviet Union (modern day Belarus) in search of freedom and opportunity. Like Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez, I am the face of immigration too, although I’d say I’m a little more foreign to corruption than she is.

My secular perspective, mixed with my distrust of government institutions, is partially shaped by the culture of Russian Jews – which is nothing like the American Jews that helped to liberate us. To me, Judaism is much more an ethnicity than it is a religion. When angry mobs and organized militaries come to kill Jews, they won’t spare a Jew from death for being secular.

America, to the Russian Jewish community, or any other immigrant group that escaped oppression, is truly the land of the free. That’s why it pains me to know the story of black people in America, a story that directly contradicts that notion, and that so many black Americans, like Syreta Oglesby, still don’t feel like their equal as citizens.

Syreta Oglesby (microphone in hand)

Syreta Oglesby (microphone in hand)

Unfortunately, Oglesby’s truth – that black people “don’t have the same rights and freedoms as everybody else” – is something regularly met with either ignorant criticism or meaningless, if not shameless, pandering. That’s not to say there isn’t room for criticism and pandering, but that there never seems to be a discussion about the agenda to alleviate the concerns of people protesting under the banner of the official #BlackLivesMatter – known as Campaign Zero.

At this point I plan to use this piece to start discussing that agenda, mixing in some criticism and pandering, while dissecting the common narratives of both #BlackLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter.

Black men being killed by police – the facts, myths, and need for action.

Even though I’m not that high on the tactics and rhetoric of those operating under the #BlackLivesMatter umbrella, I do believe the Campaign Zero agenda is not at all controversial and mostly on point.

(NOTE: If interested, to save words, this piece by Jason Whitlock is relatively close to how I feel.)

As most know, #BlackLivesMatter emerged after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. What also emerged was the narrative of “hands up, don’t shoot,” but following a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation, we now know the chant was built on a lie.

This is when folks representing #BlueLivesMatter, which emerged as a response to #BlackLivesMatter, because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, cheer that fact and says things like “all these blacks just want to cry about racism that doesn’t exist.”

Well, the other part of that investigation blew the lid on systemic racism within the Ferguson Police Department. The type of systemic racism which over time fuels anger, frustration, and distrust, then explodes into violent protest the day a black teenager is shot by a white police officer – legally justified or not.

That’s why I said Watterman should use her energy for a resolution that deals with systemic racism, because Jersey City is a ticking time bomb that needs to be defused before something terrible happens.

Ending for-profit policing (tickets and fines), which was at the heart of systemic racism in Ferguson, is another part of the Campaign Zero agenda which would be great to implement. I think everyone could get behind that, but for budgetary reasons I doubt it will ever happen.

In line with Campaign Zero, and similar to Newark, NJ, Jersey City should create a citizen complaint review board, but it won’t happen because Mayor Fulop cares more about police unions than community oversight. Sorry, the Jersey City Public Safety Advisory Board is a joke, especially because it includes JC NAACP Pres. Braker – whose “piss drunk” incident at Crown Fried Chicken showed how much he cares about public safety.

The agenda calls for ending broken windows policing, which I’m certainly not a fan of, but I’ve been to many city council and community meetings where the majority of people are demanding politicians have cops do something forceful about simple quality of life issues. I think focusing on abolishing some of the laws that destroy quality of life, like narcotics prohibition, is much more useful.

Campaign Zero also calls for fair police union contracts. I’m assuming anyone reading this far could imagine my thoughts on police union contracts and the need for change.

Also, kudos to NJ Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a 2017 gubernatorial hopeful, for introducing a bill to have a special prosecutor from the NJ Office of the Attorney General (AG) investigate whenever someone is killed by law enforcement. This is also in line with Campaign Zero’s call for independent investigations, but to kind of nitpick, I’m not sure it’s much more independent because county prosecutor investigations already operate under the AG.

Now back to “hands up, don’t shoot,” this past week a black man who works as a behavior therapist was shot with his hands up as he laid on the ground. He was assisting a black autistic boy who had left a group home, someone that cops thought was an Emotionally Distressed Person (EDP) with a gun based off a witness calling 911.

At this time I ask everyone to take race out of the equation.

An EDP acting irrationally represents a common police-involved shooting – 25% of all cases in 2015, according to the Washington Post. Those subject to force in these situations were overwhelmingly men, more than half of them white, and better training for these circumstances are also in line with Campaign Zero.

The good news is that New Jersey is already working on improving training for officers dealing with an EDP. Unfortunately, for Martina Brown of Jersey City, this training came after the fact of her death.

Then again, the officer that killed Brown, Eric Tavarez (more on him and police training coming soon), might be a distressed person himself.

Tavarez Questionable Comment

Tavarez Questionable Comment

Putting race back into the equation, the majority of those killed by police last year were white, although blacks were proportionally killed by police at a high rate.

The stats, like those for poverty and welfare, depending on the perspective, can be twisted so many different ways. In my opinion, empathy from all parties in this debate would go a long way.

#BlueLivesMatter empathizing with the countless black Americans who see these police shootings as nothing other than an evolution of slavery and lynchings would help.

#BlackLivesMatter empathizing with the incredibly difficult tasks law enforcement is required to perform everyday would help. As well, communicating with white audiences about how excessive use of force isn’t just a black issue would certainly help their own cause. Yes, #SayHerName, but don’t forget Daniel Shaver, Rev. Jonathan Ayers, and the list goes on.

Police officers need better training not only for dealing with EDPs, but to successfully interact with people in general (which doesn’t include corny running man videos). Additionally, changing the color of cops won’t solve that issue because many of those protesting aren’t always high on black and Latino law enforcement either.

Just take a look at JCPD Sgt. Keith Armstrong’s dismissed discrimination lawsuit against the city to get an idea of how some of his black neighbors felt about him. According to a source, Armstrong’s nickname was “Training Day” for his behavior.

Sadly, Armstrong’s situation is nothing compared to some other stories unique to minority officers in the JCPD. Hence my skepticism when Campaign Zero, and politicians like Fulop, push diversifying police as a legitimate solution to the current crisis with policing in America. In the long run, I fear it will cement the status quo.

It’s also ignorant to assume that skin color would make someone a better candidate to be a cop, just like it’s ignorant for an employer to disregard a resume because the name at the top sounds black. Jersey City should be exclusively focused on hiring good candidates.

Continuing on, like Campaign Zero and Fulop, I’m a big supporter of body cameras, as well as filming police, because it has a tendency to bring out the best behavior of all parties being recorded. Plus cameras come with a good amount of objectivity when reviewing an incident.

Unfortunately, my surveillance videos of the JCPD, including Lt. Crowley and Capt. Leonidas Karras, is likely going to be swept under the rug by Fulop and Prosecutor Suarez. I’m not sure #BlackLivesMatter would be happy to hear to that, but I know #BlueLivesMatter is. Still hoping Gov. Christie got a chance to personally read my open letter to him about all that corruption.

Oh, about my filming, that’s how you use white privilege to expose corruption, because I doubt any black person could go unnoticed pulling off what I did. On top of that, as the War on Cops goes from figurative to literal, the cops I was surveilling should be fired simply for being so unaware of their surroundings.

Speaking of the War on Cops, a phenomenon which is partially a response to the centuries old War on Blacks, the militarization of local police forces is now hear to stay. Once well-trained and heavily-armed psychos like Gavin Long and Micah Johnson started attacking cops, any hope for demilitarization died with the police officers they slaughtered.

Gavin Long - Baton Rouge cop killer.

Gavin Long – Baton Rouge cop killer.

I wish that weren’t the case, especially with someone like Tavarez in the Emergency Services Unit, but this is the new reality. Pistols and police cruisers alone can’t keep officers and the public safe in chaotic situations like Dallas, Baton Rouge, and Orlando, and with ISIS inspiring lone wolves over the internet, there is no going back to an America without militarized police.

Additionally, those psychos killing cops may have also killed a major story I was working on to bring police accountability to Jersey City. A story which really could have helped those who’ve been unjustly prosecuted due to questionable JCPD detectives.

More on that another time, but if you’re reading this, and feel the urge to kill cops, please seek help from a mental health provider before you kill someone else’s hard, unpaid work to bring about true police accountability.


Finally, to summarize everything I said, we need to shift from an emotional debate about policing in America to a rational one focused on policy. It has certainly been a challenge for me to do that, to question my own biases, and I’ll explain why in detail another day (because so many often ask me why I care).

In the meantime, cowardly politicians like Mayor Fulop and his HCDO cronies will continue to act like the true stories mentioned earlier in this piece aren’t real, and will avoid the policies advocated by Campaign Zero and others that conflict with the police unions they value more.

That’s why it can’t be me pushing that agenda at city council and freeholder meetings anymore, but the people who protested and their supporters.

Until then, the status quo will continue, which now includes the dark, depressing, and volatile days following the shootings of citizens and cops.


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