On Wednesday, September 9, 2015, I joined roughly 50 Black Lives Matter demonstrators outside the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark, NJ. The “Rally To Demand Justice For Abdul Kamal, Kashad Ashford, Jerame Reid, And Radazz Hearns” was orchestrated by the People’s Organization for Progress (POP), the leading grassroots social justice organization in the city, headed by the famous activist Lawrence Hamm. The protest directly attacked the multiple incidents of police brutality within NJ over the past few years, specifically the police murders of Abdul Kamal, Kashad Ashford, Jerame Reid and Radazz Hearns. Organizers of the rally called upon Paul Fishman, U.S. Attorney for the District of NJ, to investigate the murders of all these men and bring civil rights charges against the officers involved in the shootings. According to NJ.com journalist Andre Malok, Fishman promised a meeting with the four victim’s families.
“‘A meeting doesn’t mean justice,’ said Lawrence Hamm, Chairman of POP.
‘But it’s a step in the right direction.'”
(Andre Malok, “Group rallies for victims of N.J. police-involved shootings,” NJ.com, Sept. 10, 2015. See Link below)
This was my second BLM rally in Newark this year. The first one took place July 25, also hosted by POP, which drew nearly 1,500 demonstrators – the single largest BLM protest in NJ. At the September rally, perhaps a quarter of the demonstrators were white (typical average for most BLM protests). It was also the first rally to center attention on all four police shootings. Even the July 25 rally focused on all national police brutality cases, particularly Sandra Bland. Back in February this year, I was taken into police custody and fined $60, along with Lawrence Hamm and Walter Hudson, for refusing to use the sidewalk during a rally in Bridgeton to protest the police shooting of Jerame Reid. Later that month, around 250 demonstrators returned to Bridgeton for a massive march and rally for Reid (the largest rally in the city since the labor movement of the 1930s), only to be confronted by Bridgeton police in SWAT uniforms, who brutally attacked and arrested a protester. The September picket outside the Attorney’s Office, however, brought together the mothers’, families, friends and community sympathizers of all four victims. While demonstrators conducted the classic picket-circle along the sidewalk, the family members, mostly the mothers’ of the victims, spoke in the middle of the circle.