Several civil rights organizations in New Jersey assembled at the State House Annex in Trenton on Monday demanding legislators pass the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) bill.
Organizations at the rally included the ACLU of NJ, the Ironbound Community Corporation, the NJ State NAACP, a number of local NAACP chapters, Salvation for Social Justice, the Latino Action Network, The Jersey City AntiViolence Coalition Movement, and Newark Communities for Accountable Policing, among others.
The bill (A-4656), sponsored by Assembly Members Angela McKnight, Benjie Wimberly and Shavonda Sumter, would establish a CCRB in every municipality in New Jersey to review and investigate complaints against members of the police force of the municipality. The State Attorney General’s office would receive $800,000 in funding for a required CCRB training course for Board members.
The People’s Organization for Progress in Newark, led by activist Lawrence Hamm, hosted a bus to the rally.
The rally also called for the passing of the Police Transparency Bill proposed by retiring State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, making police disciplinary records public.
McKnight said the bill emerged out of the Black Lives Matter movement after the 2020 police murder of Black, unarmed George Floyd in Minneapolis. The Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee cleared the bill in March.
“This is truly a piece of legislation designed by the community, for the community,” said McKnight. “We involved police, community members, advocacy groups, community leaders, municipalities, and clergy. The participation of these stakeholders ensures that we have legislation that is strong, powerful, inclusive, and represents the voices of the people.”
Wimberly said the bill will establish a platform for residents to have their say on the issues and concerns affecting communities.
“We have fought long and hard for equality and justice for our communities,” he said. “Witnessing the many public and unjustified incidents of brutality and violence against Black men and women across the country in the last year, we are called upon to take a different approach to ensure equality for all under the law.”
Pushback against the reforms is coming from the Fraternal Order of Police and their allies, including amendments introduced to limit subpoena power and delay concurrent investigations.
Joe Marchica, founder and chair of Our Revolution Trenton Mercer, points out that creating a review board is entirely voluntary for a town, city or county.
“No one is forcing these boards on anyone,” he said. “And the data has conclusively shown police internal affairs processes do not hold accountable police officers who abuse their power. So if you have the best interests of our communities in mind, why wouldn’t you want strong CCRBs?”