We grieve with the family of George Floyd and–like many in Bernards Township, across the country, and around the world–are outraged about his brutal murder, the slow response when it came to the arrest of those responsible, and the lack of leadership from our president. Sadly, we are not surprised.
Mr. Floyd is just the latest unarmed African American to be killed by police. We cannot help but notice a pattern of disparate treatment by police against people of color. According to the most recent U.S. census, only about 13 percent of the population is black or African American. Yet, based on information collected by the database Mapping Police Violence in 2019, black Americans were nearly two and a half times more likely than white Americans to be killed by police.
We are dismayed by the riots and vandalism we continue to see in the aftermath of Mr. Floyd’s murder. To be clear, violence, destruction, and looting of property only increases the pain felt in our communities, and should be prosecuted. But nothing is more American than peaceful protests led by agents of change who seek systematic change to rid our society of systemic racism and to ensure a safer and more peaceful future for Americans of color. It was especially inspiring in New Jersey to see police officers joining peaceful protests in Camden and New Brunswick, as well as other communities.
We are grateful for the dedication and service provided by the Bernards Township Police Department. But, as our community becomes increasingly diverse, it is very important that our police department has the necessary tools, training, procedures, and discipline needed to serve our residents, visitors, and commuters equitably and inclusively and with respect, dignity, and professionalism. As residents of Bernards Township, we are prepared to work with members of the police department and its leadership to ensure that best practices and tools for reducing racial bias are in place. We encourage all of our friends and neighbors in Bernards Township to participate in this dialogue for the foreseeable future, and not allow this tragedy to simply “go away” because it is no longer in the national spotlight. Indeed, this is a long-term commitment that we must make together to work towards lasting and meaningful change. Together, as a community, we can be the agents of that change to ensure that Mr. Floyd’s legacy is one of peace and a brighter future.
Dr. Sophia Chadda
Mr. Jon Sandler
Candidates for Bernards Township Committee