ELIZABETH—While Mayor Chris Bollwage blames Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow for inaction on a series of murders in the city, minority activists say politics is the real culprit.
There were 55 murders in Elizabeth during the past three years, but police have solved fewer than half.
Many of the slaying victims were black, including a 13-year-old boy who was gunned down in November.
“These homicides were perpetrated in low-income communities of color, and there’s no sense of urgency to solve them,” said James Cary, president of the Elizabeth branch of the People’s Organization for Progress.
Salaam Ismial, chairman of the United Youth Council, accused Bollwage of “playing politics” at the expense of human lives.
“We’re not going to sit up here and wait for more people to get shot because the prosecutor’s office and the mayor’s office are playing politics,” Ismial said. “I don’t know what the politics of it are and I don’t care.”
“The problem is, we’re not getting things done,” said Ismial, who was asking the federal Department of Justice to get involved to straighten out the local police and politicians.
“Part of the problem is that Bollwage put crooks in charge of law enforcement,” said James J. Devine, a Democratic political consultant once close to Bollwage. “There is a clandestine group of racists called ‘The Family’ and they are operating within the Elizabeth Police Department.”
“Bollwage knowingly put members of this group in charge,” said Devine of Bollwage’s police leadership selection. “His first police director came from the ranks of the notorious ‘Family’ and he has done nothing to break up this clan’s influence.”
Devine noted that no black officers have ever been appointed to superior ranks during Bollwage’s 26 years in elected city offices.
Krishna Garlic and Neptune Ambroise, two unsuccessful candidates in the recent school board election, called for improvements in school security during the campaign.
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