Elizabeth pols, developer profit by slave labor

Elberon Development Group, a third-generation family business founded in 1920, has been identified as the owner of the Elizabeth Detention Center.

A group of human rights supporters is asking Elberon to end its lease with the barbaric for profit prison company and do something good instead of profiting from evil.

Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage, a frequent recipient of political contributions from the landlord, dispatched city police to scare away protesters but they returned in greater force.

The organizations participating in today’s actions include Casa Freehold, Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War, Close the Camps NJ, Cosecha NJ, Doctors for Camp Closure, ICE Free NJ, Jews Against ICE, New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees, Never Again Action NJ, North Jersey DSA Immigrant Justice Working Group and Pax Christi New Jersey.

The human rights activists want Elberon to set up a fund to pay reparations to the families of all who have been separated due to detention at the EDC.

Anne Evans Estabrook, the chairman of Elberon is a member of the board of trustees of Kean University, the finance board of the Archdiocese of Newark, and the past secretary of the board of Catholic Charities in Newark.

Her son, Dave Gibbons is a member of the board of trustees of Kean University as well as First Bank, and Elizabeth Healthcare Foundation.

Both Gibbons and Estabrook have given thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to local politicians including Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage, Assemblyman Jon Bramnick and state Senators Nicholas Scutari and Tom Kean, Jr.

During a virtual press conference broadcast by the New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees, speeches were delivered by Rosa Santana, the program coordinator for First Friends; Jamil Sunsin who is the subject of a documentary about his life after the rest of his family was deported to Honduras following his father’s detention at the EDC; Joelle Lingat, of AFSC Immigrant Rights Program and one of the attorneys on the class-action lawsuit to release all detainees at the EDC; Haydi Torres, an organizer with Cosecha in Elizabeth; and Rita Dentino, executive director of Casa Freehold.

Jamil Sunsin wanted to make sure that the owners of Elberon understand the brutality of the deportation system from which they are profiting when.

He said, “the United States claims to be the land of the free, yet they find it a necessity to separate children from their families. That’s not freedom. That’s torture.”

Elberon Development Group owns and manages about 2.5 million square feet of warehouse spacecwithin a two mile radius of the Ports of Elizabeth and Newark.

Last Wednesday, at the end of an emergency 18 hour vigil outside the EDC for Hector Garcia Mendoza, one of the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, protesterd were told by police if they didn’t leave they would be arrested at the insistence of the property owner.

Activists later learned the Evans Street building in which CoreCivic incarcerates immigrants, is listed in Elberon’s on-line property portfolio.

“It’s a blight on the city that such barbaric cruelty has been allowed– I know reports exposed inhumane jail conditions and prisoner abuse on the facility,” said Carlos Trujillo, a former Elizabeth school board member who is challenging Bollwage in the Democratic primary election. “But its stunning to see how close politicians next to people who have blood on there hands.”

Little goes on in Elizabeth without Bollwage or his cadre of close allies cashing in on the action.

A band of rogue cops maintains unofficial discipline in the Elizabeth Police Department, where the Attorney General forced Bollwage to fire an aide usually tasked with his political fundraising because that man ex-Police Director James Cosgrove– used racial slurs and sexually abusive words on his staff in addition to ignoring the city’s serious crime problems.

State Police records show about 90 percent of the crimes reported in Elizabeth had gone unsolved in eackeach of numerous recent years.

There are clearly disparities among law enforcement methods and locations, but Bollwage jokes that ‘they don’t need justice down the Port’ or other minority occupied areas.

He does not think its funny when he is confronted with the 23 or more young black murder victims whose case files are virtually closed because the mayor really doesn’t care about them.

He views the dead children as drug dealing gang members who got what they deserved.

So sensitive to the plight of African Americans in the Democratic city is Bollwage that a civic rights lawsuit against the municipal government was filed by the stater of then-City Counci President Patricia Perkins Auguste.

And while the police director used inappropriate language to describe his officers, Bollwage has always restricted himself to the PG version.

For example, rather than the N-word, Bollwage calls his most loyal constituents “spooks” when he’s among white friends. His reference for gay people is ‘fags’ and in his heart, there’s nothing wrong with that.


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