Policing the police
My name is Laquan Thomas. I was walking with a group of friends of mine, and a cop pulled a gun on us and told us to get on the sidewalk. The higher priority calls go on a pink card. We have wives.
What would you do as a police officer if you encounter a group of males, one supposedly has a weapon on him? Like, you all are supposed to be serving and protecting the community, but they serve and disrespect the community. Stokes, ly classified G-Shine, or a gang member.
How would you confront the situation?
Maybe, but the ones doing the 9-to-5, paying their taxes—why are we subject to the same punishment as the rest of them? These buildings been vacant for 30, 40 years.
Hanging out, you know, with a lot of guys, you got searched, you got stopped, you got put on the wall, you got put on the ground, and I know how that feels. We all have a responsibility. You want to be careful. We have families. This is what we do. I thought these might help me get more insight into how they justify them, so I filed a public records request.
But the system is messed up for a long time.
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They say the guy clutched his waistband as he was riding his bike. It has nothing to do with that. So I grew up in Queens, right, and on—my first experience with the police was that I was thrown up against a mailbox just like this one. The police have a responsibility, yes. Both are from Newark. After writing about the police for years from the outside, I wanted to see things from the perspective of the cops themselves. I done been robbed by the cops, I done been assaulted by the cops. People think you got a gun. We go out there every night.
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You got people with guns in here. Attorney, New Jersey: Three years ago, we announced that we were launching an investigation into whether the Newark Police Department had engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing. In every category that we have, we was down in crime because of the expenditures that we put out.
We have fathers. I mean, they say there was five to six males and one of them possibly has a weapon. Back then, there was nothing the federal government could do to fix a troubled police department. In the summer ofI started looking at Newark, one of the more recent cities to be accused of abusive and discriminatory policing. Without a doubt. Godspeed to you all! I cover these stories because I see the tension between African-Americans and the police as a gauge of race relations in this country. To me, it is the fact that, overwhelmingly, it happens to one specific group of people is what makes it racism.
The mayor has a responsibility, yes. And we need to do better at that. We got the weapon! We are cities readying brothers to lead us. This stuff is a disaster, man. I mean, I grew up in Newark. Bring him back. Two guys start running as the caravan pulls up. I mean, you got generational poverty, generational unemployment. We care about this city.
How may I help you? Other side, Cee-lo! Another call, two kids running. We have mothers.
They started shooting on Madison Avenue back and forth. Cuff him!
The guy emptied his gun out. Get it! A week earlier, a young man died in a gang-related shootout across the street from the police headquarters. We have a rapport with them. The first part of it is trying to get this communications office correct. I tell you, our main objective is to go home at the end of the night. Gangs and drugs drive the violence—. I mean, that right there is racism.
We live in this city. I know that there are police officers who have done things they have no business doing. Then it happens. We treat them fair. We have girlfriends. Nobody heard any of that. But I was told it would take a while.
And being black in America, I know that our relationship with the police department has been untenable at best. Mayor RAS BARAKA: A lot of people think response time sometimes has to do with the police not responding, but a lot of it has to do with communications, when they call the police and who can pick up the phone and be able to get to an officer, all that stuff like that. I was coming home from a baseball game, had my uniform on, was carrying a bat and a glove.
As a result of the many, many, many complaints that we saw over a six-year period, there was only one complaint of unjustified use of force that was sustained by the police department. Are the criminals being dealt with? We have children. So then they run outside. They came all the way down the street. We went out with Tremayne Phillips, a second generation Newark cop, and Nate Lhowe, a New Jersey state parole officer ased to the unit.
We are a nation—. People have packed City Hall to speak up about the need for more police ability. I know that. The next experience I had was a few years later.
Drop it! Another guy shot him. We have sisters. You stupid? None of us can really figure out how the intelligence of which people are going to commit crimes, murders. But that leaves room for discretion. Fairview Homes, we will ride by and monitor that location during our tour of duty.
How does that happen without being the same sorts of policing that people are protesting about? I mean, we go out there.
But he sees who we are. We respect them. We have a job to do. You start learning how to read people, their body language.
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We put more people in here, they could be on those computers over there. Getting illegal guns requires you rolling up on folks. We have a runner who will take the card over here—. After the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, I took this cell phone video of cops trying to put down the protests. It took months before they agreed to give us access.
The Justice Department issued a report.