Calling for Police Reform and Termination
Dear Acting Attorney General Platkin,
We pray this communique finds you well and Blessed! Congratulations on your recent nomination to serve as the 62nd Attorney General of the State of New Jersey. You assume the role during a period in which our nation is grappling with the core principles of democracy, equity and unity.
As an attorney, I am sure you would agree that there are foundational documents within the construction and ideology of the American legal system, the Magna Carta (1215), Declaration of Independence (1776), Constitution of the United States (1787) and Bill of Rights (1791). Each holds its own grandeur and shortcomings! We would add The Letter From the Birmingham Jail (1963) authored not by a legal scholar or jurist, but, by the greatest moral visionary produced on American soil, The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Ph.D. It stands equal to those documents as a challenge and corrective to their ethical lapses as it relates to the rights of enslaved and formerly enslaved African-Americans. In said letter, Dr. King posits, “Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.”
Dr. Kings words echo our concern about the arrest of a 14-year-old African-American student at the Bridgewater Commons Mall on February13th. Two glaring concerns are at the heart of our observations: First, racial assumptions made by the officers produced actions that by-passed the non-Black children involved in the melee. Such cannot serve the purposes of justice! Second, in an era defined by George Floyd, why would any responsible officer of the law, with a partner, subduing a 14-year-old child, still feel the need to place her knee around his neck area?
Mr. Acting Attorney General, this incident demands a swift and unequivocal demonstration that you and our state take the meaning of “liberty and justice for all” with the utmost seriousness! Such would be the ultimate show of support and respect to the vast majority of our law enforcement officers who execute their public duties with equity, fidelity and thoughtfulness. Neither of the officers involved in this incident did such! We hope that we can rely on you to fulfill the duties of your office with the end that justice should not target one racial/ethnic group over another. And in this regard, you will act as a corrective agent to ensure the safety of every citizen of New Jersey by insisting on the termination of these officers and conducting a state review of policies and procedures within this department.
As a state, we spent many years addressing racial profiling in the New Jersey Division of State Police. It is now time to focus the culture, training and accountability of New Jersey’s local law enforcement agencies.
Thank you for your time and consideration!
Rev. Dante’ R. Quick, Ph.D, senior pastor, and Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr, pastor emeritus