On Monday, June 21, dozens of organizations mobilized activists to Trenton to call on the Legislature to pass strong reforms to hold police accountable and a statewide Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB).

Organizations including the ACLU of NJ, the Ironbound Community Corporation, the NJ State NAACP, a number of local NAACP chapters, Salvation for Social Justice, the Latino Action Network, The Jersey City AntiViolence Coalition Movement, Newark Communities for Accountable Policing participated in the rally

The rally, organized by Newark Communities for Accountable Policing and a new statewide coalition, New Jersey Coalition for Police Accountability, took place outside of the Statehouse Annex in Trenton. The demonstration called for passage of several bills to create strong civilian oversight of police, make disciplinary records transparent, criminalize chokeholds, limit deadly force, and ending qualified immunity.

However, the New Jersey Assembly delayed the vote for a CCRB due to the rally. The CCRB bill that has been proposed by Assemblywoman Angela McKnight.

“This has been a long struggle and the journey will not end today. Hopefully we will get closer today but understand the journey will not end today,” she said during the rally. “This has been a long struggle and the journey will not end today. Hopefully we will get closer today but understand the journey will not end today.”

The organizations also urged the Legislature to reject a bill that has been fast-tracked through committee that would allow police officers to see body camera footage before writing their official reports, which would compromise accountability.

Last week, Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, County Commissioner Samuel Frisby, Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, and other local and statewide leaders urged legislators to pass a strong CCRB bill before the end of this session of the NJ Legislature. Other Mayors supporting this key bill include those in Plainfield, Jersey City, Highland Park, Morristown, and Asbury Park.

“Real police reform must include community oversight with subpoena, investigatory, and disciplinary powers,” said Maati Sekmet Ra, co-founder of the Trenton Anti-Violence Coalition  “Anything less is status quo. Even more important, it [a CCRB without these powers] upholds policing practices that have led to harm and the loss of life and liberty in our communities.”

The People’s Organization for Progress (P.O.P.) organized a bus to the rally.

“If the police review board don’t have subpoena power, we don’t want it,” said P.O.P Chairman Larry Hamm.

Pushback against strong reforms comes from the Fraternal Order of Police and their allies- including amendments introduced to limit subpoena power and delay concurrent investigations.

“Creating a review board is entirely voluntary for a town, city or county- no one is forcing these boards on anyone,” said Joe Marchica, founder and chair of Our Revolution Trenton Mercer. “And the data has conclusively shown police internal affairs processes do not hold accountable police officers who abuse their power. So if you have the best interests of our communities in mind, why WOULDN’T you want strong CCRBs?”

Newark Communities for Accountable Policing (NCAP), restated its position for ‘strong’ CCRBs and the passing of other related strong police reform measures in a letter to the NJ State Assembly. The organization says

“The Newark CCRB structure is a model for the state and nation, and now requires legislative changes for it to realize the promise of its power,” NCAP said. “We urge the Legislature to support legislation that allows for the creation of municipal-level civilian complaint boards with the key features that were originally afforded to the Newark CCRB.”

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