Where is there injustice in our community? And what can we do about it.
There are young men and woman in Camden that have been punched, kicked, arrested, and jailed without ever committing a crime. I have read the reports, seen the pictures, and heard the stories. Please read this article that discusses the issue in detail. See this story as well.
I trust Chief J. Scott Thomson. I know that he has fired more police officers than any other chief in New Jersey. Almost all cops are awesome. They have a tough job. I’m friends with cops. But it says a lot about the state of policing that after a complete overhaul of the police department, after trainings and a presidential candidate touting the grand success months after a presidential visit, we still have young men getting the shit kicked out of them that were never resisting arrest or a threat of any kind.
Last year, a high profile political insider told me that he thought that the accusations were by criminals that wanted to bolster their chance of getting a case kicked out. No. Just as it happened in 1966, 1976, 1986, and 2006, there are some officers that are overly aggressive. [Read Camden After the Fall for many examples.]
What can we do about it?
A. Write, call, complain, and meet with/to Camden County Freeholders. Remind them that this is still an issue.
B. Record it, put it on Facebook, talk about it, let the world know the names of the cops that do it.
C. Start a Camden Civilian Complaint Review Board. Model it after what Mayor Ras Baraka and the ACLU did in Newark, NJ. We already have structure in place, but it needs the support of Mayor Dana Redd, the county government, and the community. The local NAACP could work with community groups, especially the District Council Collaborative Boards.
2Under resourced schools
The argument about district schools versus charter and renaissance schools misses the point. Students need material items and comfortable schools to learn and be prepared for the 21st century economy. For example, at all five district high schools and the three charter high schools in Camden, Biology students need microscopes, slides, preserved animals to dissect, and certified highly qualified teachers. Do all eight schools have that today? No. What happens when that student goes off to college, sitting with peers that were exposed to science with the right materials in middle in high schools?
What can we do?
A. Understand the school budget process. There is a lot to it. A lot. Remember that unlike 98% of the school districts in New Jersey, we have neither a voting school board nor a public election on the school budget.
B. Demand that charter and renaissance school budgets be published online, just as public schools are required to do.
C. Parents can be specific about what their students need in the classroom.
D. District leaders can be open about the curriculum and resources needed to implement it.
E. The next Advisory Board meeting is Tuesday, January 26 at Davis Family School in East Camden.
Does anyone think that elections in Camden reflect true democracy? No.
Do I need to say anything else about this? Not really.
What can we do?
· Do more than just vote. Go to meetings. Listen to different sides. Remember that elected leaders aren’t kings or queens, they are servants.
4 Sex slavery & Human Trafficking
We have sex slaves in Camden. Many of the sex workers [technical term for prostitutes] that we see roam Broadway are forced by circumstances beyond their control to be there.
What can we do?
I think the other thing that we can do is end rape culture, the idea that men forcing women into sex is sometimes okay. Read this article, that lists what we can do to end it.
To report knowledge of trafficking, here is local information.
Arrests and Jail
In America, and certainly in Camden, the criminal justice systems arrests too many people for too many infractions, and then sends them to overcrowded prisons. People are then released to a community with not enough jobs, not enough affordable places to live, and streets with a thriving suburban resident drug market fueled by the over prescribing of opiates for pain relief.
Our jail here in Camden County is too crowded. To their credit, Camden County Freeholders put out a document that discusses the issues and possible solutions. But that isn’t good enough. This has been a problem for over ten years. There are multiple reports and recommendation on what to do about it. The eighth amendment to the United States Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment.
What can we do:
1. Collect stories about mistaken identity arrests, disgusting almost inedible foods being eaten in the jail, and other deplorable conditions.
2. Write, call, complain, and meet with/to Camden County Freeholders. Remind them that this is still an issue.
In The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander argues that
This Injustice List is not complete. Please add what you think are other injustices that happen. But like Rev. Dr. King, we must offer suggestions for how to change policies and then identify our specific actions to get the powerful to change.