NEWARK, NJ — The People’s Organization for Progress, a local grassroots activist group, held its 67th consecutive Justice Monday protest outside the Peter Rodino Federal Building on Broad Street in downtown Newark on Monday, May 8, to convince the next U.S. attorney in New Jersey to open civil rights investigations into “The Jersey Four.”
P.O.P. Chairman Larry Hamm said four refer to “Abdul Kamal, who was shot and killed by Irvington police; Kashad Ashford, who was killed by Lyndhurst police; Jerame Reid, who was killed by Bridgeton police; and 14-year-old Radazz Hearns, who was shot seven times by Trenton police — four times in the back,” Tuesday, May 9.
“It was the 67th consecutive protest. You know (former U.S. Attorney) Paul Fishman is no longer the U.S. attorney for New Jersey. I guess there is an acting U.S. attorney. Paul Fishman is now teaching at Seton Hall Law School and I know this because I appeared on a radio show with him and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka recently. He was one of the 46 U.S. attorneys I think that were fired in one night by President Trump.”
Hamm said the demands of the People’s Organization for Progress are still the same, so they plan to continue protesting every Monday, from 6 to 7 p.m., in downtown Newark.
“We are demanding that whoever the incoming U.S. attorney will be, that person will institute civil rights investigation into the deaths of The Jersey Four,” Hamm said, adding, “We condemn the U.S. Justice Department’s decision not to pursue charges against the killers of Alton Sterling. I believe this decision is a direct result of Jeff Sessions being appointed as attorney general, because he said he’s going to put a stop to what he calls the Justice Department ‘interfering’ in the states.”
Hamm was referring to the case of Sterling, 37, who was killed by police in Baton Rouge, La., in July 2016.
According to Hamm, the tragedy and irony of Sessions’ statements and policies have never been more evident since the shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards by a police officer on Saturday, April 29, in Balch Springs, Texas.
“We also raised up the name of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards in Texas,” said Hamm. “We condemn the death of Jordan Edwards and we demand the prosecution of that officer. You know that it’s got to be a pretty bad incident when his own department fired him after reviewing the footage from his dash camera.”
Anything less than form Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver’s conviction for murdering Edwards will not be justice, Hamm said. Edwards father, Odell Edwards, has already filed an excessive force lawsuit against Oliver in federal district court in Dallas.
“I think this is all a direct result of Jeff Sessions being the U.S. attorney general,” Hamm said. “Most people don’t know this, but in 2017, almost 400 people have already been killed by police. Since Michael Brown, there have been 2,500. Since 9/11, there have been more people killed by police in the U.S. than soldiers killed on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.”
Hamm said there’s plenty of blame to go around, arguing that the spotlight being on President Donald Trump means it has been “taken off police brutality. But just because the spotlight is off, doesn’t mean that the problem has gone away. That led to directly to the shooting of Jordan Edwards. His life was snuffed out and now we’ll never know what kinds of contributions he could have made to society.”