While their calls to defund the police in this year’s budget were unsuccessful, Jersey City advocacy groups are still pushing for reforms, with some looking forward to the 2021 municipal elections.
Black Men United Jersey City Founder Nevin Perkins advocated for a Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) that have appointment power of the people, budget protection, subpoena power, and disciplinary power – as others highlighted on social media earlier in the day.
“It needs to have people power in terms of people should be able to select whose on the CCRB. We need to have strict disciplinary methods … there needs to be something strict and determinate how discipline is laid down,” said Perkins.
Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31) has proposed Bill-4272, which she said would give CCRBs subpoena power, though any further amendments are unclear at this time.
While lauding the allies gathered, Perkins also said that African Americans “need to have a conversation amongst ourselves as well. We need an agenda as a people.”
Akasha Maples, of Solidarity Jersey City, argued in the wake of calls to defund the police, many have defended the police while dehumanizing those who commit crimes due to desperate circumstances – which should be addressed by communities at large.
She also said that while voting is powerful, it is not as powerful as a united, community-based front.
“It’s so easy to just say vote. Vote, vote, vote and that will take care of everything … I do believe in voting power. But I believe in people power first,” Maples stated.
” … Instead of waiting for the city council or any legislative branch to make decisions for us, we need to realize our own individual, personal power. Every single person standing here is so ****ing powerful.”
Community activist Sali Ali lamented that the city council didn’t do their job on Tuesday evening by approving the $658 million budget since they ignored advocates calls to defund the police – despite a seven-hour public comment.
Ali said that this is the latest example of why voters should not support Mayor Steven Fulop or the city council in next year’s municipal elections.
“In 2021 we’re gonna call it ‘stop the flop,’ because that what he is: he’s a flop. Stop the flop 2021. He’s done, it’s over. I’m not afraid of his $1 million dollar campaign. [Glenn] Cunningham wasn’t afraid at that time and he made it,” she exclaimed to applause.
“ … Ward A and Ward F have the largest amount of people. They don’t want us to remember that! But you remember that because in 2021 we’re taking the city back.”
Longtime advocate and political operative Arnold Williams shared that sentiment.
“Next year we need to replace the entire city government … We can’t point to one positive thing they’ve done, particularly in the black or African American community.”
Williams also stressed that community organizers should not waste too much time trying to find a mayoral candidate, since winning the council majority (five seats) would essentially cancel out the mayor’s executive powers.
Additionally, Joniesha Hickson, the CEO and founder of Dear Black Prophets and a member of Solidarity Jersey City, expressed her belief that “racism is a pandemic,” noting that she feels a tale of two cities between Downtown and the urban neighborhoods still exists.
The event was held across the street from the Black Lives Matter mural near Grant Street and Communipaw Avenue.