NEWARK, NJ — Following a successful demonstration of thousands against the killing of George Floyd last Saturday, People’s Organization for Progress Chairman Larry Hamm is inviting supporters back for another round of peaceful rallying.
POP, a grassroots organization for social, economic and racial justice, will resume its Justice Monday initiative on June 8 at 3 p.m. in front of the Peter Rodino Federal Building, Hamm said. The peaceful call to action will demand that United States Attorney Craig Carpentino, who works in the Rodino Building, investigate a series of local police brutality cases across the state.
Prior to the current national protests over the death of Floyd, the black man from Minneapolis who died on May 25 when a police officer knelt on his neck, POP had been organizing every Monday since 2016 at the Rodino Building to advocate for victims of police brutality. The organizing paused due to the pandemic.
“We need to be really clear that this is not something that just started. The protesting that is happening now is a because we have been championing for years,” said Deborah Smith Gregory, president of the Newark NAACP, at POP’s press conference on Friday. “We can’t ever stop protesting, but it will come down a local level, and we have to activate people to get to work.”
Specifically, POP is requesting that Carpentino investigate the deaths of Abdul Kamal, Jerome Reid, Kashad Ashford and Earl Faison, who was killed by Orange police in 1999.
Hamm said POP will also continue advocating for the New Jersey Supreme Court to reinstate Newark’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, which would have the power to investigate civilian complaints against police via subpoenas.
Right now, Newark is embroiled in a state Supreme Court battle with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No.12 for the right of its Civilian Complaint Review Board to investigate public complaints against police via subpoena. The CCRB was established in 2016 after a 2014 federal report determined Newark Police Department had a pattern of civil rights violations.
The same year, the city also entered into a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice. The DOJ's investigation also resulted in the appointment of a federal monitor to help undo the damage wrought by unconstitutional policing and internal failure to enforce officer accountability.
A decision is expected to be rendered in the case by around the end of the summer.
“Policing in America has to be deconstructed and reconstructed. If we don’t deconstruct it as it currently exists, then we really won’t stop police brutality,” Hamm said. “The origins of racial oppression are carried forward in the practices we see today.”