Edison, NJ - On Monday, Faith in New Jersey and the NJ Clergy Coalition for Justice gathered at the steps of Mt Pleasant Baptist Church in Edison to call on Speaker Coughlin and the New Jersey Assembly to advance A3115. The bill, if passed, would require the Attorney General’s office appoint an Independent Prosecutor if an unarmed person is killed by a police officer. According to organizers, in 2018 there has already been 722 unarmed people in the US who have been shot and killed by police officers. In a facebook post promoting the event, Faith in New Jersey stated that “these killing have caused mental health trauma and major disconnect/mistrust between the communities, especially communities of color, and law enforcement.” The Senate version of the bill, S1036, passed the New Jersey State Senate earlier this year.
The Assembly version of the bill is sponsored by Assemblywoman Britnee N. Timberlake (Essex and Passaic), Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (Union), and Assemblyman Benjie E. Wimberly (Bergen and Passaic). It provides that the New Jersey Attorney General handle the investigation and prosecution of crime involving a person’s death by law enforcement officer while acting in officer’s official capacity or while in custody. The bill also requires trial in a venue outside the county where incident occurred.
Supporting Monday’s gathering were an assortment of faith leaders. Organizers of the event listed the following supporters: Pastor David Ford, Sr. of St. Matthews Baptist Church, Rev. Carmine Pernini of Evangelical Lutheran Church, Rev. Jack Martin of Kelly House for Retired Priest, Rev. Kathryn Irwin of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Bishop Wayne L. Johnson of Bibleway Deliverance Center, Pastor Timothy Jones of Bethel Baptist Church, Pastor Tom Cully of Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church and Executive Director Archange Antoine of Faith in New Jersey.
“This is an opportunity for New Jersey to stand on the side of justice and to stand with family members in New Jersey and around the country who have lost loved ones and still cannot determine how these loved ones have died,” Mr. Antoine. “Let’s have a thorough, transparent investigation,” said Second Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth pastor Granzen. “We can clear it up. Right is right. Wrong is wrong. And then go forward as a community. But without that happening, you’re going to continue to have problems, a lack of transparency, and you’re going to have families that are grieving, not knowing what really happened.”