Did a ‘mob’ attack injured cops? NJ officials dispute police union claim
The extent of injuries to three Newark police officers who were making an arrest on Tuesday depends on who you talk to.
Newark Public Safety Director Brian O’Hara told NJ.com that two brothers “physically interfered” with their brother's arrest on Tuesday.
On the other hand, Newark Fraternal Order of Police President James Stewart claimed that a “mob of people” choked the officers and smashed their body cams.
Mayor Ras Baraka is siding with O'Hara's version and accused the union of giving a "false narrative" that undermines the efforts to build trust between police and the community.
“While it is true two men tried to interfere in the arrest, our officers were not ‘pummeled to the ground and kicked in the head’ as one source, who was never at the scene, relayed to the press. Equally, the headlines that said police were attacked by a ‘mob’ were patently false and sensational," Baraka said.
Baraka said body camera footage of the incident shows the officers "struggling" to cuff a suspect but there was little violence involved.
The men who interfered with the arrest turned themselves in, the mayor said.
"While a small group of people gathered, they in no way attacked the police. In truth, when I arrived at the scene, the uninvolved witnesses were helpful, respectful, and seemed to side with the police," Baraka said.
The mayor said the union's story feeds "old and archaic thinking that police are an occupying force, always in danger from a hostile community, rather than goodwill guardians of a community that has a growing respect and cooperation with one another. That is what we are building in Newark, truth be told."
Stewart on Thursday afternoon did not respond to New Jersey 101.5's request for more information after Baraka's statement.