Baraka stumps for upcoming Newark police brutality march, calling it chance to 'express our humanity'

By Dan Ivers | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on May 27, 2015

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka addresses reporters to express support for the march.

 

NEWARK — Mayor Ras Baraka was joined by Dr. Cornel West and others to express support for an upcoming march against police brutality, calling it an opportunity for the community to "assert our humanity."

The July 25 march, billed the "Million People's March", will seek to raise awareness about police brutality, racial injustice and economic inequality by demonstrating in the streets of downtown Newark.

At a press conference to officially announce the event, Baraka called it "long overdue."

"What is sad is that almost 200 years after Dred Scott in 1857 declared that we had no rights that the state was bound to respect, that we're still wearing shirts that say 'Black Lives Matter'," he said.

"That we are trying to still trying to assert our humanity, in this century, is a problem."

Baraka was joined by other supporters of the march, including scholar and activist Dr. Cornel West, who said participants were hoping to change the justice system to create more tangible recourse for victims of brutality and their families.

"We want to make sure that policemen are accountable not in the form of some abstract investigation of a police department. We want policemen to go to jail when they kill somebody, just like I go to jail if I kill somebody," he said.

Speakers such as People's Organization for Progress Chairman Larry Hamm noted that police brutality has been a contentious issue in Newark, particularly after the U.S. Department of Justice released a report that said excessive force and civil rights violations were endemic among city officers.

Family members of Abdul Kamal, who was shot to death during a confrontation with Irvington police in 2013, and Jerame Reid, who was killed during a traffic stop in Bridgeton in December, were also on hand at the press conference to express support for the march.

The event is slated to begin at noon on July 25, at the Lincoln Monument at the corner of West Market Street and Springfield Avenue in Newark.

Hamm said an additional 40 civic organizations have signed on in support of the event, and he expects dozens of others to join them in the coming weeks.

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