One of the nation’s largest civil rights organizations is faulting Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage for inaction after the Union County Prosecutor found that the city’s police director used racist and sexist slurs.
The ACLU-NJ issued a harsh statement following the decision of Elizabeth Police Director James Cosgrove to resign for using the n-word plus other racist and sexist slurs at work.
“New Jerseyans certainly feel relief that Police Director James Cosgrove has stepped down, but it never should have required the Attorney General’s intervention or calls from advocates for Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage to take action,” said Amol Sinha, ACLU-NJ executive director. “As soon as the Union County Prosecutor found allegations of racist and sexist slurs credible, Mayor Bollwage should have been compelled to take immediate steps to meet the seriousness of the situation.”
“Instead, we saw a mayor who chose to evade accountability by blocking journalists on social media when asked about the controversy surrounding his police director, antithetical to transparency and the Constitution,” said Sinha.
“Cosgrove’s resignation speaks to the influence of civil rights advocates across New Jersey, and it also indicates the need to deeply examine police culture in Elizabeth – and statewide – to ensure that the scourge of racism and misogyny are properly addressed at every level,” said Sinha.
“Now, the Elizabeth Police Department and the larger community can begin to heal from this stain on their city,” said Sinha. “The police department and city officials must work to promote a healthy, safe environment for officers and the community alike. We hope the Attorney General’s audit and implicit bias and harassment trainings will start the process, but we know more needs to be done.”
“As it recovers from the decades of known bias in its police brass, Elizabeth is also at the precipice of great opportunity, as it has the chance to reform its culture, policies, and practices,” said Sinha. “The next police director must be committed to not merely avoiding past mistakes, but to evolving EPD’s culture into one of openness and inclusion.”
“We must have truly transparent and accountable policing that all community members can have faith in,” said Sinha.
“We must reduce the unnecessary use of force, particularly against communities of color who are disproportionately impacted,” said Sinha. “And we must take a stand for racial justice and gender equality – pillars that are essential to protect and advance as we strive to create a Garden State that is inclusive and diverse.”
Bollwage defended Cosgrove over the racial and sexist insults despite the possibility that he may seek re-election next year
Meanwhile a key Bollwage ally, state Senator Nicholas Scutari, is trying to emasculate the black mayor of Linden, in his role as county political boss.
Scutari is trying to take away the city council majority that has allowed Linden Mayor Derek Armstead to govern independently and effectively.
Despite his success winning three consecutive Democratic Party nominations, Armstead has been forced to struggle against Scutari and others who came up in politics under an atmosphere of white supremacism.
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