Normally glocallynewark does not report about robberies or violent assaults in Newark. Additionally, we normally stray away from the fray of politics and political rhetoric. However, Mayor Baraka’s comments regarding the Ferguson, Missouri tragedy, and on-going issues with regards to New York’s stop and frisk, and the Federal monitoring of Newark Police department, It got us wondering whether there are differences in police approaches.
Baraka, who built his reputation as a community activist prior to becoming mayor, called both the shooting and its aftermath “unfortunate. “It’s just unfortunate that we’re still here in 2014, and …. unarmed African-American males are still being killed by police officers in the street,” the Newark mayor said.
The escalation of the situation in Ferguson has parallels to issues in Newark, where long-standing mistrust of law enforcement was validated last month when the U.S. Department of Justice released a report detailing a number of failings by the city police department, including the improper targeting of its black population for stops and arrests.
Baraka said he referenced the unrest in addressing hundreds of members of the force at Rutgers University last week, saying it could serve as a teachable moment as it attempts to repair its relationship with the community.
“I told them what was happening in Missouri is best practices for what not to do. It also speaks volumes for why we need better community and police relations, and people need to understand that we’re here to serve the community, and not here to occupy the community,” he said.
So, on Tuesday, we got a first-hand look into Newark’s apprehension approach, approximately 10:30 a.m. I heard the shrieking of tires and sirens blaring, near my office, the Newark police officers were responding to an attempted armed mugging of a college student. The officer then pulled his weapon and demanded the alleged perpetrator, to “put his hand up and lay-down on the ground”. It first appeared that the perpetrator was going to follow the officer’s instructions, when all of a sudden he began running. Now I am not sure, but it looked as if he was running in slow-motion, or maybe a little hesitant, not knowing how the officer my respond. This insistent easily could have gone wrong. He began to run faster. In this split second, this decision, this moment could have turned into another tragedy of life lost. Instead, the officer had called for back-up, and a chase on foot resulted in a capture. The weapon was later found, a knife that was tossed in my backyard.
Good news in this case, no one was harmed and no property damaged. In this instance, a series of events went according to plan. When it goes as it should, it rarely gets reported or observed first-hand. So with that said, at least in this instance the statements made by the Mayors seem credible and accurate, by this first hand observer.