Citing new video from the Bostwick Avenue brawl on Tuesday, Jersey City black activists called for the police officer who used a nightstick during the incident to be suspended for at least as long as the matter remains under review.
The video released to the media today shows one officer using an extended baton on two men who were arrested after a large gathering at 30 Bostwick Ave. got out of hand on Tuesday evening.
“He’s just a teenager!,” one woman can be heard yelling during the physical encounter.
One man is struck with the nightstick after going to the ground with another police officer, the other after being pepper sprayed. The officer can then be seen putting his nightstick away after both men are subdued and being handcuffed.
“This is not political, these are my friends, and when my friends are attacked, it’s just giving them a voice and speaking on their behalf because this family has lost loved ones due to violence in these streets,” Jersey City NAACP PAC Chair Chris Gadsden, also a former Ward B councilman, said during a press briefing today.
“And then on Tuesday, they saw members of their family being beaten. How much trauma and how much stress can a family take? … We’re human and we do not deserve that type of treatment or response from this city, from police officers, or from anybody.”
A viral video made the rounds late Tuesday evening of a large street fight being broken up by police, which included the aforementioned use of pepper spray and a nightstick, leading for some to question the officers use of force.
The next day, Mayor Steven Fulop, Public Safety Director James Shea, and Police Chief Michael Kelly said that they believed the officers used great restraint considering that someone tried to grab an officer’s gun, also noting that cell phone video of the incident posted on social media had been edited.
Frank Gilmore, a community who hosts the weekly “Educational Gilmore” show on social media, said that Jersey City leaders should not be weighing in on the actions of the officers in question.
“So i say to my friend Steven Fulop: when you get on national TV and suggest that videos are being manipulated, and it’s not the actual video, we know and understand that. But we also know and understand the tone that you’re trying to dictate to the people whose in charge of reviewing the case.”
He continued that he feels Shea and Kelly should not be stating their views on the officers’ actions while the case is still facing a probe, also pushing back on the notion that there were 100 people present before police arrived.
On Wednesday, Shea said the incident would be reviewed by the Jersey City Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit before being given to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.
After Friday’s press conference, city spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione said that the HCPO is already taking a look at the case.
“As standard with our practices within the JCPD, we submitted all information and video to the Hudson County Prosecutor for an independent review.”
Referencing the “disgusting” videos released to date, particularly the one from today, Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition Movement Executive Director Pamela Johnson said the “hard, whipping sound” of the nightstick will likely bring back traumatic memories for many.
“I want everybody to listen to those videos again because that hard, whipping sound reminded me of the sound [of when] my grandmother and my grandfather told us how they were whipped by their slave masters,” she said.
“That could bring back a memory that none of us want to relive, whether we were there or not, none of us want to relive the stories of what happened to brown and black people.”
Johnson also called for the city to released the police body camera footage from the incident.
While Shea previously said this was part of the investigation and therefore not yet a public record, the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division ruled otherwise in a case stemming out of Bloomfield in January.
HCV submitted an Open Public Records Act request for the footage yesterday.
At the conclusion of their media event, Gadsden said that the officer who used his baton needs to be suspended for at least the duration of the HCPO’s review.
“We are asking the officer who inflicted that pain, and who waved that baton, that person is disciplined or suspended for his actions … we ask the county prosecutor to please look into removing him until this investigation is over, and if deemed necessary, for him to continue to have discipline actions – please give it to ’em.”
He also called it unfair for the officer who used the baton to be “on duty as if nothing has happened.”
The group also said that this is the latest example of why Jersey City needs a police civilian review board.
Five people were arrested at 30 Bostwick Ave. on Tuesday, including two juveniles. The HCPO declined to comment on a pending investigation.
The presser steamed live on our Facebook page and that, along with a news clip of the event, can be viewed below: