Cranbury Mayor Matt Scott offered his personal thoughts and comments on the civil unrest that has arisen from the death of George Floyd, who died after being knelt on by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for more than eight minutes on May 25.
“I was a young man in 1992 when the Rodney King beating was broadcast on TV. Since the advent of smartphones, it seems that videos like it have become a permanent and routine part of our shared national experience. Out of complacency and necessity many of us have become inured to them, and although we know that the violence they depict is horrendous we had come to accept them as a part of what it means to exist in America in modern times. The Floyd video was different. The calm, almost casual, manner in which that man’s life was taken in broad daylight on a otherwise unremarkable city scene was a surreal and sickening reminder of how both a black man’s life can be devalued and how far a police officer can fall from his sworn oath to protect and serve.
“If you take that singular event and add to it other senseless murders of black Americans by police and self-deputized community militias in the past few months and recent years, you start to piece together a pattern. A short and incomplete list of names is all you need: Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Stephon Clark, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin. I could go on. The names are now well known, and the facts are indisputable. These people, these human beings, these fellow Americans, all had their lives ended prematurely and violently for being black, or even more dangerously, being black and poor.
“That is why the protests continue and that is why I support them. Although the protests themselves can seem scary and foreboding, I find reason to be optimistic and even enthusiastic about their possibility to enact change. The protests that I have seen on social media and indeed the one I attended in Princeton were multigenerational, multicultural gatherings with Americans of all stripes in attendance. A more patriotic and American affair would be hard to imagine, for everyone is demanding just one single but elemental thing: that the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the oppressed minority be upheld and enforced by the law.
“One of the important facts that I take from the murders cited above and of the ongoing unrest is that good governance and good policing matters. We can look to the cities of Newark and Camden and their success in having peaceful and productive protests. Those events were successful because the police in those two cities have in recent years (as a result of federal and state intervention and oversights) gone through radical overhauls and are now on a path towards a model of cooperative and community policing. So those two departments, instead of treating their people like an invading army, took off the riot gear and walked with them in solidarity.
“Similarly, we are lucky in our town to have a chief of police and a police department that have been exceedingly careful and thoughtful in use of force and in being kind and considerate to every person they interact with regardless of color or creed. I am proud to work closely with the Cranbury police and wholeheartedly support them,” said.
As of press time, there were two events planned in Cranbury related to the aforementioned situation. The first is building a Unity Circle/Mandala at Heritage Park on June 9 from 7-9 p.m. Attendees will use colored powder with a spoon to create this artwork. The second is a candlelight vigil on Sunday, June 14, at 7:30 p.m. This event will feature speakers and a poetry reading. Organizers of both will be publicizing with more information.