Bridgewater, NJ officials to meet with Black leaders over mall arrest
BRIDGEWATER — Mayor Matthew Moench and police chief Paul Payne plan to meet leaders from the Black community in a private meeting organized by a church to discuss how police responded to a teen fight at Bridgwater Commons.
The Macedonia Missionary Church organized the roundtable discussion with Black leaders as the township has said very little since the Feb. 12 incident that put the Somerset County community in the national spotlight.
Video of the fight shows police allowing the teen with a lighter complexion to have a seat while forcibly handcuffing the teen with the darker complexion,
The Township Council canceled its second meeting of the month on Thursday without explanation. A meeting on Feb. 16 was canceled because of security concerns.
In a statement on the township website, Moench thanked the Rev. David Hobbs for organizing the meeting.
"I have always been proud and supportive of our police department. But I firmly believe that support of the department has to consist of more than empty platitudes. Support means that I will do everything I can to provide those officers with tools and resources they need to protect and serve all who live in and visit our town regardless of race, color or creed," Moench said.
The mayor said a public forum "to discuss the issues of policing and public safety after the internal affairs investigation are complete."
The date of the meeting was not disclosed. Moench on Friday afternoon did not respond to New Jersey 101.5's request for more information.
'We don’t need an investigation'
Several groups including Black Lives Matter and the New Jersey State NAACP continue to demand the removal of the officers involved. That demand was repeated Thursday evening in a protest outside the township Municipal Building organized by Black Lives Matter NJ.
Zellie Thomas of Black Lives Matter Paterson told TAP Into the BReeze that his group wants their concerns to be heard now and not after an investigation.
Bridgewater Commons management was criticized at the demonstration with a chant of "shame" after the Black teen's attorney, Ben Crump, tweeted that Kye's mother would have to pay for the table that was broken.
The Somerset County Prosecutor's Office is also part of the investigation.