Bridgewater, NJ mall arrest: New attorney general issues warning on racial policing
After a fight video at Bridgewater Commons mall drew condemnation of a Black teen's arrest, the newest attorney general for the state is reminding enforcement about "racially-influenced policing."
Video shows two 15-year-old boys, one Black and one white, fighting in a third-floor lounge in the mall. When two police officers arrive, one pulls the white teen to a couch while they subdue the Black teen on the ground by placing a knee on his back. The white teen is allowed to move about freely.
In a memo sent Friday to all law enforcement chief executives, Acting Attorney General Matt Platkin says that "even the appearance of racially disparate treatment is detrimental to community and law enforcement relations, and to public confidence in the criminal justice system."
He reminds officers about a 2005 directive that prohibits "racially-influenced policing" and considering a person's race or ethnicity as a factor in determining if someone is involved in criminal activity or how to treat someone.
Reaction to Bridgewater Commons mall fight video
The incident is under investigation by the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office.
Already, Gov. Phil Murphy has called the video disturbing and local Black Lives Matter and NACCP groups have called for the officers to be fired.
Even the white teen in the video called the Black teen's treatment "wrong."
The Black teen's family, meanwhile, has hired well-known civil rights attorney Ben Crump.
Bridgewater Township postponed a town hall that had been scheduled for Wednesday citing the number of people who were interested in attending.
On Tuesday, Bridgewater Mayor Matthew Moench, a Republican, said the police department was cooperating with the prosecutor's investigation.
"I want to thank the public for its patience in refraining from jumping to conclusions while an investigation is pending," he said. "I also want to thank the brave men and women of the Bridgewater Police Department for their continued service, and for keeping our public safe in today’s challenging environment."
The police department said on its Facebook page that it was "thankful for our community partners and look forward to continuing to build our positive relationships."
Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at email@example.com
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