PATERSON, NJ - After nearly two hours behind closed doors a meeting called by Mayor Andre Sayegh broke up with attendees being tasked to go back into the community and let residents know that allegations of police brutality will be taken seriously.
According to one person in the room who asked not to be named, the opportunity to hear from law enforcement experts, specifically Dalton Price and Sharon Easton, both lieutenants with the Paterson Police Department, helped to “put things into context.”
“It gave us a chance to see the whole situation.”
Reverend Allan Boyer, senior pastor at First Bethel A.M.E. Church, commended Sayegh for convening the gathering saying that he found the discussion to be “fruitful.”
“Our job as leaders in the community is to go back and ask residents to stay calm and stay cool until the process plays out,” he said referring to the ongoing investigation being conducted by the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office.
Boyer added that it is critical to “listen to the community to get solutions,” a strategy CeaseFire Paterson, the anti-violence organization he hopes to oversee, is adopting by hosting event in all six wards starting later this month.
Speaking to TAPinto Paterson prior to the meeting local activist, and founder of the Paterson branch of Black Lives Matter, Zellie Thomas, said that he wouldn’t be satisfied with the outcome unless “significant policy reforms” were discussed, something he lamented later, were not.
“We still aren’t clear on what led to the arrest,” Thomas said. “Time and time again we’re told to trust the process, it’s a conversation we’ve been having for years.”
“When is enough enough?”
For Talena Lachelle Queen the meeting made it very clear in Sayegh’s Administration “police brutality is not ok.”
Calling the conversation “cohesive” Queen said that not only the incident itself, but also the response, is being watched by individuals well beyond Paterson’s borders. That response, she suggested, has the power to be “transformative” and one that can become a “national model.”
For his own part Sayegh came out of the meeting saying that he believed it had a “positive impact” and “progress was made” while pledging that his office, with the help of everyone in attendance, as well as those not in the room, would continue to communicate.
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