Civil rights leaders demand action


BRIDGEWATER – Civil rights activists held a press conference outside the Bridgewater Police Department on Saturday to call for action after two officers’ response last week to a fight at Bridgewater Commons was questioned as being motivated racial.

Z’Kye Husain, a black eighth grade student from Somerville, is shown in a now-viral video being forcibly detained by Bridgewater police following a fight with another teenager at the mall.

“Last Saturday (Husain) stood up to a bully, defending someone smaller and younger than him, and he met not one, but two knees in the back,” said Anre Sims, the aunt of Husain.

“How many people still have to die to change? Sims asked. “I’m not going to wait until my nephew dies to defend him. I represent Kye, and I am Kye.”

The video shows Husain and Umar Joseph Franco, a sophomore at Bridgewater-Raritan High School, arguing and pointing fingers at each other. This leads to pushing and shoving, and the black teenager, Husain, being thrown to the ground and handcuffed while Franco is placed on a sofa nearby.

“I am very upset about what happened because I have three sons,” said North Plainfield resident Joy Anderson-Manning. “I’m shocked, but not surprised that this continues. (It’s) everyday life in black America.”

“The police took it to a different level,” she added. “It was very racist, and both officers need to be fired.”

READ: Here’s how Bridgewater was trying to improve police-community relations before the mall fight

The event, which attracted more than 100 people, was organized by Lawrence Hamm, president of the People’s Progress Organization.

“It’s outrageous what happened to (Husain),” Hamm said. “We want the police brutality to stop here in Bridgewater.”

According to the organizers of the event, the activists’ demands include the firing of the two officers shown in the video, the mayor and city council issuing an apology to Husain’s family and a full investigation into the police department of Husain. Bridgewater.

Ben Crump, a nationally recognized civil rights attorney who has represented the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin, has been tapped to represent the Husain family.

The video prompted the NAACP to request that the officers be removed from the Bridgewater Police Department pending an investigation by the New Jersey Attorney General’s office.

“Now is the time for the governor and attorney general to put an end to this type of police behavior,” said Richard T. Smith, president of the NAACP New Jersey State Conference, earlier in the week. .

The “racially disparate treatment is deeply, deeply troubling,” Murphy said Wednesday.

The Bridgewater Police Department previously said in a statement that it “acknowledges that this video has upset members of our community and calls for an internal affairs investigation. Officers were able to respond quickly to this incident and prevent it.” to get worse thanks to a tip we received from the community.”

Bridgewater announced on Friday that its regular township council meeting this coming Thursday has been canceled.

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Alexander Lewis is an award-winning journalist and photojournalist whose work covers many subjects. This coverage is only possible with the support of our readers. Sign up today for a digital subscription.

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