Victims of police violence share their stories at public forum in Newark

Craig D. Frazier | 9/25/2014, 5:28 p.m.

Special to the AmNews

Newark, N.J., did not have a high-profile shooting like Ferguson, Mo., but public records document 418 incidents of police misconduct over two and a half years, including nine wrongful deaths or deaths in custody. In 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a 96-page petition with the Department of Justice, accusing Newark’s police of rampant misconduct.

The ACLU investigation found citizens filed 261 complaints with the department, accusing officers of using excessive force, biased actions, improper searches or false arrests in 2008 and 2009. The city paid nearly $5 million over a two-and-a-half-year period to settle lawsuits brought against the Police Department by residents or employees, the ACLU said.

Thursday, Sept. 25, ACLU-NJ and other advocates are formally launching a coalition, Newark Communities for Accountable Policing, to bring reforms to the Newark Police Department. The Newark Communities’ steering committee has gathered a group of Newark community members to share powerful prepared testimonies that recount their experiences with police misconduct. The event will be held at the Unified Vailsburg Services Organization, 40 Richilieu Terrace, between S. Orange Avenue and Cliff Street, in Newark. Organizers say the event will unite community members.

“We so often hear about the hard data that proves the police abuses that Newarkers face everyday, but rarely the human stories that go along with it,” said ACLU-NJ representative Eliza Straim.

Last month, more than four years after the ACLU’s petition, the Department of Justice completed its investigation and announced long-term monitoring for Newark.