Richard Smith, president of the New Jersey NAACP, this afternoon leaned on the Senate Law and Public Committee to ugently bring to an end “the criminalization of black skin.”
“The murder of George Floyd and subsequent lack of accountability has set in motion a moment of reckoning for our nation’s cconscience,” said Smith, testifying on the heels of Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to the lawmakers on Senator Linda Greenstein’s (D-14) committee.
Smith said the state – and the country – must not fall prey to merely making symbolic gestures.
“What does justice look like?” he asked.
The surface of the Black Lives Matter movement is “sexy” at this particular moment, and fasionable, he said. “Even poltiicans are tweeting black lives matter when their voing records show otherwise.” But “Will the appetite [for change] be a one meal wonder or will the appetite be insatiable?” Smith asked.
Statues coming down does not et to the underlying and overriding injustice.
“That’s what they are giving are community,” Smith said. “We need a commitment to real change. We don’t want crumbs; we want the whole meal.”
The NJ NAACP Prez urged senators to reach out to Senator Ronald L. Rice, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, who has legislation ready with reforms.
“For too long police have operated with impunity,” said Smith, an institution protected by structural inequality. “Stop building youth prisons and build up communities on the front end,” he added.
During the q and a session with the committee, Senator Joe Cryan (D-20), a former Union County sheriff, asked Smith what law enforcement agencies can do to improve the recruitment of minorities.
“That is the million dollar question,” said Smith. We need to put more resources into police recruiting.”
Does it lack in a partiular area?
“I think it’s all over,” said NJ NAACP Prez. “Policing in some cases is generational. We need to be able to develop that same processs in our own community.”