MORRISTOWN – After a young black man was found hanging from a tree in a nearby park in late June, the group Black Lives Matter Morristown asked the state Attorney General to investigate.
The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office ruled the death of 20-year-old Amani Kildea a suicide, but said the investigation was continuing. In light of the questionable deaths of black men across the nation, BLM Morristown was not satisfied with that explanation.
So it dispatched a lengthy letter to state AG Gurbir Grewal seeking his involvement in an investigation.
Turns out that Grewal was on the Morristown Green today for an unrelated event.
Asked about the Kildea case, Grewal said, “We’re involved, we’re always involved.”
He said that as is customary, the state AG will assist the county prosecutor’s investigation. This likely is not the independent state investigation BLM Morristown sought, although Grewal is involved.
The AG did caution not to expect a quick resolution. He said all investigations take time, but that under a pandemic, they can take even longer.
Grewal and various other political and law enforcement officials, among them state Senators Dick Codey and Anthony M. Bucco and county prosecutor Fred Knapp, were on the Green to highlight the unveiling of a new van for the Hope One program.
Begun by the Morris County Sheriff’s Office in 2017, the Hope One van travels the county offering help to those in need of substance abuse care and treatment. Rather than encouraging those in need to visit a central location, the van comes to them.
James Gannon, the county sheriff, said that since its inception, the van has been on the road for 443 days and that more than 12,000 people have been served.
One problem has been the van itself – a converted bread truck. That’s why the sleek, new van, which unlike the old truck has heat and air conditioning, is so important.
As many others have pointed out, Gannon said that overdoses and suicides spiked upwards during the first few months of the pandemic. Grewal echoed that observation, saying overdoses are up statewide this year as well.
The Attorney General praised the philosophy embodying the Hope One program, saying it rightly stresses help and treatment as opposed to punishment and incarceration. Or as he appropriately put it, the van truly offers “hope.”