February 21, 2023

An Open Letter to the Elected Leadership of Englewood*

Mayor Michael Wildes

Council President Judith Maron

Council members

Charles Cobb

Dr. Kenneth Rosenzweig

Dr. Lisa Wisotsky

Kevin Wilson



            On behalf of Newark Communities for Accountable Policing (NCAP), an umbrella organization for Newark’s social justice partners represented on Newark’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, we come to you in full solidarity with the family of Bernard Placide Jr. and with the community organizations demanding accountability for this young man’s horrific, traumatic and senseless death.

            In doing so, we have come to Englewood and witnessed a deep racial divide on both the City Council and within your police department as this young man’s death reveals. Former Black police officers have illustrated the police divide. The walk out and ending of a council meeting several weeks ago of only white council members as the community was simply expressing its grief revealed a glaringly similar divide within the City Council.

            It was an absolutely horrible gesture.

            In this context, on the anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, whose legend was launched by his courageous and creative confrontation with police brutality in New York City, we come to you to suggest you do several fundamental things to address this very real and pressing problem.

            First, as a united body, acknowledge the divide and the tension. Recognize that you need ‘real help’ in addressing the divide and the tension, and get help from the Federal Government! Call for a Federal Consent Decree where a Federal Judge and Federal Monitor would oversee a thorough reform process. It is not perfect, but it helped us move the needle in police reform in Newark considerably. It is a difficult process. Trying to affect change in racialized police culture in any American city is difficult, but with an emphasis on fostering the ‘Guardian’ Notion of Policing versus the ‘Warrior’ Notion of Policing, some change can occur, as we have seen in Newark.

            The second is to acknowledge, as a body, a united body, not individually, the validity of each of the demands that the community is putting forward. In particular to their demand for Civilian Oversight, and do what we did in Newark. Ordinance in a unanimous vote a civilian oversight body that is empaneled by recognized parties associated with social justice for transparency, one that has subpoena power, that has the authority to do both independent investigations of police behavior and to do concurrent investigations, and one that has a disciplinary matrix that police leadership must adhere to. At the same time, because the authority of civilian review boards is being put forth and debated in the state legislature, put forward a resolution in support of bill A1515 Enabling Civilian Review Boards with this authority for any community that wants one.

            Three, insist and engender robust community engagement as a critical part of the reform process to help foster ‘Guardian’ policing consciousness on all sides and abandon the divisive notion of ‘Warrior’ policing.

            The five demands of the family and the community are sound and just. Acknowledge them as a united body and address them as a united body and lay this dangerous divide down.


            Zayid Muhammad

            NCAP organizer

            * This letter has been done in support of the Bernard Placide Jr. family and community supporters. Bernard was tragically killed in a mental health crisis by Englewood police Luana Sharpe in September. He was only 22. The community had to fight back against an effort to have Sharpe promoted by a traumatically indifferent police department in the immediate aftermath of Bernard's killing. They have been protesting consistently at City Council meetings with the following demands...1.The firing and indictment of officer Sharpe. 2. No promotions for any of the officers involved in the incident. 3. Englewood should have a Civilian Review Board with Subpoena Power and the Power to do independent and parallel investigations. 4.Transfer oversight of Englewood police department from Bergen County to the NJ Attorney General. 5. A community center named after Bernard Placide Jr.




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