Concerned residents, activists and others joined Newark Communities for Accountable Policing (N-CAP) at a rally on the steps of City Hall and delivered to Mayor Ras Baraka more than 1,300 signatures on a petition to standing with him in support of reform the Newark Police Department.
“Last night was the continuation of one of the greatest civil rights battles in the history of our city,” said Rashawn Davis, an organizer for the ACLU-NJ who spoke at the rally. ”The rally showed the mayor, the city council, and police leadership that Newark residents are serious about reforming the Newark Police Department and creating civilian oversight for a department that has notoriously had difficulty policing itself for decades.”
Larry Hamm, chairman of the People's Organization for Progress, said, "Last night's rally was powerful. It was a milestone in our struggle for police accountability and civilian oversight. The N-CAP coalition is helping to build a strong movement for police reform."
Said George Gore of the New Jersey branch of the NAACP, “We are in this fight to the finish.”
The latest effort to reform the Newark Police Department follows a three-year civil rights investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice based on complaints filed by the ACLU-NJ. The Department of Justice report, released this summer, identified some disturbing trends:
- Up to 75 percent of stop-and-frisk actions lack a constitutional basis.
- Black Newarkers are 2.5 times more likely to be stopped than white Newarkers, and three times more likely to be frisked.
- Police officers have engaged in a pattern and practice of brutality.
- Police officers have targeted people in retaliation for lawful objections to police actions and other First Amendment-protected activities.
- The police department’s internal discipline and accountability systems have failed.
The Department of Justice and the City of Newark are currently in negotiations before entering into an historic agreement for federal oversight of the police department and sweeping civil rights reforms. As the terms of the agreement are negotiated, N-CAP will work to ensure that the Newark police are accountable to the community.
For more information visit the N-CAP website.