Stand united with community against police brutality
The New Brunswick community will join communities nationwide this Saturday in standing up against police brutality. Of course, recent events in New Brunswick have put police violence back in the headlines, with the tragic death of resident Barry Deloatch fresh in the minds of many in the community. We in the Rutgers United Student Coalition express sympathy for those mourning Deloatch’s death and support the efforts of Deloatch family spokesman and activist Walter Hudson and other community organizers to hold the City Hall accountable for the actions of its police force.
We do, however, want to caution members of the University community. It is easy to think of this as an isolated issue, as the tragic actions of rogue cops and as something that we as students are protected from. However, the facts simply do not back up this reassuring worldview. We should stand with residents in protest of police brutality, if only out of self-defense.
Not, of course, that it is moral to wait for violence to directly affect one’s own life in order to act. As students existing within the larger New Brunswick community, we have a responsibility to ensure what is best for this community. We turn a blind eye toward NBPD’s history of authoritarianism and corruption at our own risk. If we do not stand up and strongly criticize the police for overstepping their bounds when dealing with lifelong residents of the city, we cannot expect to operate safely within the community.
The checkered history of the NBPD is well documented. Long-term residents of the city will tell you that this is not the first time a resident has been shot by the police under suspicious circumstances. A researcher from the Rutgers-Newark School of Law has shown that blacks make up a disproportionate amount of the arrests made in our city. The NPBD was accused of multiple cases of police brutality last year, some against University students. There have been repeated complaints of police illegally holding people, using unnecessary force and of showing blatant disregard of the law.
Make no mistake about it. We are not anti-cop. We are pro-honest cop. The issue facing this community has reared its ugly head everywhere from Las Angeles to the American South. This is why we are proud to stand with members of the New Brunswick community, to demand that those sworn to protect and serve do just that.
The demands of the protestors are simple ones. Basically it boils down to the same thing that people have always demanded of their governments, whether they stand on the streets of Cairo or on Wall Street. They demand to be treated with respect. We in the Rutgers United Student Coalition are proud to echo that call.
John Connelly is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in history and political science with a minor in social justice. He presents this letter on behalf of the Rutgers United Student Coalition, a joint project between various cultural and progressive campus organizations