Pastor John Arnold, Jr.
August 15, 2011 by admin
He Called Them What? They Might As Well Have Called Them N*ggers!
Last Sunday afternoon after being in two church services, I finally had a chance to sit down and review the Newark Star Ledger article “The Killing Cycle” detailing the hard work of the Essex County Homicide Task Force. Many of the faces I recognized from supervising them or working besides them, and some of the names were familiar to me from seeing them listed on police reports which came across my desk as a Captain of the Courts Bureau.
I was glued to the article reading enthusiastically every line reminiscing back to my days as a young Homicide Detective, a Lieutenant of Homicide Detectives, and eventually the Commander of the Homicide Bureau which encompassed, the Homicide Squad, Crime Scene Unit, Motor Vehicle Fatality Unit, and Essex County Homicide Task Force. It was a high point in my life, and my friend Anthony Ambrose who was also my partner on several cases when I was a Homicide Detective, and who is now Chief of Detectives of the Prosecutor’s Office, had achieved the rank of Lieutenant, and just returned from the FBI National Academy. He was being groomed to take over the Newark Police department, by then Police Director Joseph Santiago.
My indoctrination into the position of Commander of the Homicide Bureau came with the shooting death of police officer Joyce Carnegie in Orange. It was also during this time that we had several other high profile investigations taking place in Essex, all while we were dealing with the not so high profile cases. We had half the personnel they currently have, but maintained a 65 – 80 percent solve ratio with a comparable conviction rate. We were experienced and trained by our predecessors who were some of the finest police officers that ever walked the halls of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. Men like David Martinez, Thomas Adams, Roger Spain, Kenneth Reed, Bill O’Connell, Al Smith Jr., and even though I had a falling out with him, Stephen Praschak who was my training officer on my first Homicide. There were others who assisted us and made the unit the success that it was such as the great Norman Menz, a young tenacious cop’s attorney named Stephen Taylor, Cathy Fantuzzi, Tom Huth, Keith Harvest, all who had a genuine invested interest in solving Homicides and protecting the citizens of Essex.
But one thing that killed the enthusiasm, the inspiration, and love that I had for the article, was the derogatory, suspect racist, low intellect name calling used to describe the perpetrators of the crimes that were being written about. Never in my twenty six years of law enforcement, nor, in my forty six years of life, have I heard a public official call someone who commits a crime anything other than perpetrator, suspect, individual, culprit or defendant when speaking to the public. Never have I heard anyone of my constituents respond in such a way to the press in a newspaper article, or a television interview. We have called certain individuals worst to their face, but never did we just lump everyone who commits a murder into the category of “shittum”. Yes the Pastor wrote a curse word, pray for me and get over it!
The Bible tells us in Romans 14:16 “Let not then your good be evil spoken of”. I, like so many other readers feel that the “good” work that is being done by the men and women of the Essex County Homicide Task Force was tarnished by a bad choice of words extracted from the minute vocabulary of the “star” of the article. Anyone in the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office with even a small degree of intelligence should see that the language rendered by one of its Commanding Officers is offensive, insensitive, and problematic for an office which was established by a government by the people and for the people with the responsibility to Protect and Serve the people! This type of mentality, does not work towards a solution to the problem, but instead adds to the problem by promoting an “Us against them” mentality. Law Enforcement is already detached from the community which is in contrast to the proven effective community policing model, where police officers and the community have a relationship and share things in common. Citizens do not know the names of Police officers that patrol their neighborhoods like they used too, and police officers do not know the citizens. But even more dangerous is this statement, as found in the context of this article, being that the great majority of the perpetrators of these crimes are African American. Can those who are comfortable using this term, and those who are comfortable being around those who use this term look at all African Americans as being “shittums”? This is where the racist and discriminatory consequence of using this term so freely in meetings and interviews with the press can destroy you. Maybe when it comes to promotions in the office, do you look at the African American across from you interviewing for the position as a “shittum” because they share the same skin color as those referred to in the article? Is this the reason that you do not have an African American Commander in the Homicide or Narcotics Unit of the Prosecutor’s office, but instead have a white male who uses such names over both units? (A serious conflict) Do you feel that African Americans in ECPO are inferior, can’t be trusted, and are not capable of anything other than committing crimes because they too resemble those referred to in the article?
In this time when America still has the blood and stench of slavery on its hands and is responsible for calling people of African American descent “N*ggers” and were exposed them to some of the most heinous crimes known to man. In a country where we find in 2011, white teenage males find it hilarious and enjoyable to go seek out an innocent black man, beat him ferociously, and then kill him by running over him in a pickup truck. In a country where its leaders disrespects their own President because of his ethnicity and calls him names in front of the whole world and makes themselves look stupid on the international front, a different word should have been used to describe and point out those responsible for the heinous acts of crime in our neighborhoods.
To my surprise, it is not only Black people who are calling this article slanderous, racist, and degrading, but it is also White people who are sounding the alarm. Not the ones on the NJ news Blog who are steeping in racism and are straight out racists, but the world traveled educated, God fearing men and women who disagree with using the word “shittum” to describe the youth who are committing these crimes. These Youth are the product of the society within the American culture that no one wants to deal with or acknowledge caused by the treacherous failure of America to properly deal with its poor, illiterate and distressed people of color. The derogatory name calling is not the answer to our problems of nightly murders in Essex County, nor will it bring about the solutions that are needed to stop “The Killing Cycle” currently in Newark. In the words of one of my White constituents; “He might as well called them N*ggers!”
The Bible teaches us that the power of life and death is in the tongue. How do we expect our young people to experience life and live it to the fullest if we keep speaking “Dead” things into their lives? When young whites read this article and ride through the streets of Newark, it has been embedded in their minds (which is the “gateway” to their soul) that every black male they see on the streets is a “shittum”. If these same people become Police Officers on the city police force, or take a job anywhere in the law enforcement community, they already have a perceived mindset that every African American male cannot be up to any good. They have ingrained in them that all blacks must sell drugs, drives stolen cars, rob and steal, steal and rob, and murder one another They cannot be trusted, and should be locked up because they are “shittums”. My buddy was right; you should have just called them the N-word because it has the same derogatory effect. It is unbelievable that this is coming from the highest law enforcement office in the county where the level for Police conduct is supposed to be at the highest. Now every department within Essex County feels it is permissible to address young black males and even older black males as “shittums” because the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has placed its approval on it! - From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12 -48 (NIV)
To The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office – We deserve a higher standard, we demand that you do better, and be held to the same standards that those before you were held to, and abide by the Mission Statement you proudly display and propagate.
Mission Statement of The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office:
The mission of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office is to seek justice, to serve justice, and to do justice. In order to support an environment of safety, security and lawful behavior for the people of Essex County, the Office will use lawful and reasonable methods to successfully identify, apprehend and prosecute those who commit crimes. When crime occurs, we will diligently pursue the arrest, indictment and conviction of those responsible, and at the same time respect all Constitutional safeguards for the accused. This will be accomplished through cooperation with other law enforcement agencies, at the local, county, state and federal levels, and with the community as a whole. Our staff of dedicated professionals is committed to ensuring that victims and witnesses are treated with compassion and dignity. We also operate and participate in various educational and public awareness programs to reduce crime throughout the County and provide an atmosphere of cooperation, confidence and mutual respect. Each and every member of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office pledges their commitment and full support to this mission.
Pastor John Arnold, Jr.
New Jersey Council of Urban Ministers
Pastor Arnold’s response can be seen at this link: Newark Speaks Forum