Ron Rice was a cop.
He was a cop in Newark when he got back from Vietnam, where he fulfilled his combat duty as a U.S. Marine.
His city was on fire, following the 1967 National Guard deployment to combat civil unrest after the police beating of John Williams Smth.
The chair of the state’s Legislative Black Caucus also originally hails from from the South.
He knows a little about the subject of a public lynching by so-called authorites, in this case the 2020 killing by a police officer of George Floyd in Minnesota.
“From what I saw on TV – and I want to be clear about this – unless there’s something I don’t know about
– what I saw on TV was clearly murder,” Rice told InsiderNJ. “I don’t care what color you are. You sit there and put knee on a man’s neck with your hand stuck in their pocket, that is an outright public homicide of the worst kind.”
The officer made the victim suffer. “In the old days he would have been hung and horse whipped first, and then killed,” said the senator.
Derek Chauvin, the officer who kept his knee on the neck of Mr. Floyd, “deserves the gas chamber,” said Rice.
“I believe he deserves the death penalty, if we’re not missing something,” the veteran Newark senator added. “It’s people like him who police get stereotyped. The thing that bothers me – if i saw what I saw, I’d have intervened – was that while he had his knee on his head, he had his hand in his pocket like he was relaxing, like it was just fun time. The arroganace – and then checking his pulse with his knee on his neck. It was good that that they immediately terminated those officers. Now they need to indict, and that shouldn’t take long.”
The Vietnam combat veteran lamented the loss of American institutional knowledge and of lived experience translated into what might have been a more civilized society by this point; and of the impact on people in his own neighborhood increasingly afraid of the police.
“You can’t say anything to them that’s going to change their opinions,” Rice said. “You have to show something different. They tell me, ‘You’re one of them. Cops are all the same.’ Cops are not all the same. In the old days, you did your job, you connected witht he community. Now it’s a wild wild west, and all of us are fearful of what will happen out there with cops.
“Look at my home town of Newark,” he added. “Most of the police don’t even know me. I’ve never received an invitation to police ceremonies. When Sharpe James was mayor, he invited me, but not since. They don’t know me. When I walk the streets, I’m in the same jeopardy as other black folks, even in my own city.”
He said he wants to revist the law on the legislative front.
He wants more police accountability.
He’s outraged but George Floyd did not spark that condition.
“For some reason, everytime we pick the paper up, it’s black folks getting killed by police,” Rice said. “It’s black folks saying ‘I can’t breathe.’ We have to argue with racist white folks, and it just makes me so adamant.
“This was wrong,” he added. “I wasn’t there. But blacks and whites can’t keep demonstrating alone if it leads to this kind of tragedy. Police officers have to police their own rank and file.”