North Brunswick officials condemn racial injustice, police brutality

Leaders in North Brunswick have officially have condemned the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minnesota and instances of police brutality through a resolution presented during the June 1 Township Council meeting.

According to the resolution:

“The township takes great pride in its diversity and maintains an atmosphere of honor, respect and opportunity for every resident and visitor regardless of age, race, creed, religion, origin, sexual orientation or gender identification.

“The township makes great effort to ensure that its elected leadership, department heads and appointed boards and committees reflect the fabric of the community at large, thus ensuring the many voices that make up the one North Brunswick are represented.

“The New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police has pursued the concept and development of a voluntary statewide law enforcement accreditation program to acknowledge law enforcement departments that have implemented and maintain rigorous policies and procedures that have been deemed sound and operationally effective … and as an accredited agency, as well as a visible department with respect to the public, sworn members of the North Brunswick Police Department receive continuous training throughout their career which includes de-escalation, diversity and interpersonal skills.

“The North Brunswick Police Department is also committed to recruiting and developing a workforce that represents the diversity of the community it serves.

“Recent demonstrations and protests across America, sparked by the video of the tragic death of Mr. George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officers, challenge public safety organizations and elected leadership across the country to respond as concerns are raised by residents within the communities.

“The North Brunswick mayor, Township Council and departmental leadership in no uncertain terms condemn the actions that led to the death of Mr. George Floyd … and will remain committed to the morally, ethically and lawfully fair treatment of township residents, employees and visitors … and will continue to take necessary steps, to maintain policies and procedures to ensure that residents, employees and visitors have adequate channels of communication and processes to bring all matters that call into question the fair, impartial and just treatment of anyone without fear of retribution or reprisal.”

“Our intention and determination is to make sure North Brunswick is and remains a place where everyone is treated fairly and equally,” Mayor Francis “Mac” Womack said of the proclamation, which will be signed by him, council members, Deputy Police Chief Joseph Battaglia, Police Director Kenneth McCormick, Interim Business Administrator Justine Progebin and Township Attorney Ronald Gordon.

During the livestreamed meeting, Superintendent of Schools Brian Zychowski said the Board of Education would pass a similar resolution.

“The district not only supports the resolution [the council passed], but we are committed to continue working with our other agencies, our police department, our parks and recreation. The mayor and council’s direction cannot be overlooked as a direction of diversity and acceptance and understanding that our work is not finished, not complete. This is a timely and timeless goal,” he said.

Zychowski said students need a forum to express their questions, anger and disbelief at the recent state of affairs.

“[We will] make sure they have a say in their future to change the world that we are leaving for them,” he said, calling this a “teachable moment” for things to get better.

“We are not perfect and we will continue to work together in our steadfast commitment that our students have a great place to learn, our staff has a great place to work and our residents have a great place to live,” he said.

Bishop Calvin Enlow of the New Destiny Family Worship Center in North Brunswick said a Healing of the Nation service was planned for June 5 with the mayor, police chief and clergy members expected to attend. Visit newdestinyfamily.com or watch on Facebook Live.

“[We have to] come up with a solution and strategies to eradicate racism and to eradicate police brutality so people can be judged by their character and not by the color of their skin,” he said.

During the public portion of the council meeting, Womack read comments into the record that were included in the chat box of the Go To meeting.

A person identified only as VM said he/she finds police unprofessional in non-white neighborhoods, and claimed officers harass commuters waiting at bus and/or train stations. This person also claimed he/she saw police officers hand out tickets for suspicious driving while those with cameras and mounts on their windows get off easy.

“Accreditation is meaningless and policies and statements are meaningless if a police agency does not live up to expectations,” Richard Rivera typed. “Let’s keep working on accountability.”

Womack said the comments would be forwarded to the police department for review.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com.