NEWARK, NJ — A local ordinance would make white supremacy illegal in Newark if approved by City Council, officially declaring groups like the Klu Klux Klan terrorists and establishing an official registry.
Mayor Ras Baraka announced the new legislation on Friday, saying that the measure will denounce hate crimes, racism and police brutality in the city. The ordinance will be introduced during Wednesday’s City Council meeting.
“This ordinance is no publicity stunt,” Baraka said in a statement. “These groups are a serious threat right here in New Jersey.”
In February, New Jersey’s annual Terrorism Threat Assessment Report named white supremacist extremists as a high-level danger in the state, above ISIS and al Qaeda. Jared Maples, the Director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security, recently said white supremacy groups showed a “dramatic uptick in recruiting” during recent months.
The city would also close the 1st Precinct of the Newark Police Division under the ordinance. The precinct, which is the site of the historic 1967 Newark uprisings ignited by the beating of black taxi driver John Smith, would become a museum outlining the progress of policing in Newark.
“There is a negative history in that building,” Mayor Baraka said. “We are going to set it on a course of positivity.”
The ordinance would execute the following goals under a new Office of Violence Prevention, according to the city:
- Manage policy initiatives and programs that advance the City’s anti-violence initiatives.
- Use data to inform City’s investments in violence prevention, assuring targeted approaches to violence prevention in City government and the community at large.
- Develop comprehensive community-based anti-violence initiatives within all City Departments.
- Establish a “see something, say something, do something” policy to demand that all City of Newark employees immediately intervene and report blatant civil rights violations by other employees, including police and fire. All acts of racism by City of Newark employees will result in automatic termination. Employees who fail to take action if they witness these acts will also be terminated.
- Establish a database (registry) of hate groups now existing within the United States and add to that list as new groups are identified. Hate groups are defined as those that vilify entire groups of people based on immutable characteristics such as race or ethnicity.
- The ordinance will also declare these hate groups, including groups characterized as White Supremacists, Nazi groups, the KKK, as terrorists, ban them from the City and make any actions by them illegal.
The ordinance will also close the 1st Precinct of the Newark Police Division on 17th Avenue by December 31, 2021, and the building will be transitioned into a museum detailing the history of the Newark Police Department, including the positive progress it has made with community relations, an office of workforce development, the headquarters for the Anti-Violence Initiative and a trauma center for health recovery and healing from acts of violence.