Dear Editor:

The brutal, reprehensible murder of George Floyd reminds us yet again that racism still is a factor in American life.  Although I support those peacefully protesting what happened in Minneapolis, my responsibility is to the people of Scotch Plains.

I am confident that racism is not tolerated in the Scotch Plains police department, and I believe the joint letter of Chiefs Conley (Scotch Plains) and Trigo (Fanwood) makes that clear. If I or any council member felt or ever feels otherwise, it is our responsibility to act to correct the situation. The safety of our citizens is the council’s number one job. 

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So where do we go from here? 

Last year I joined with Mayor Mahr of Fanwood, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joan Mast, and local activist group Social Justice Matters to form the Joint Truth Racial Healing Transformation (TRHT) group to address racism in our community through a common dialogue between blacks and whites in the context of Healing Circles. We were just about to go public with our efforts when the pandemic struck.

Given the current situation, THRT has decided to engage the public in our effort to reduce and eliminate racism in our community, by starting with listening sessions. Let’s first find the truth.  Watch for information on how you can participate in these virtual meetings to express your concerns, opinions, and suggestions. Councilman White, Rev. Cates of All Saints Episcopal Church, and I are ready to represent Scotch Plains in the THRT’s efforts, and we are ready to listen.

We are all in this together.  Let us figure it out together.

Al Smith
Mayor of Scotch Plains