Protests over deaths while in custody of New Jersey police departments
NEWARK-The Newark-based People’s Organization for Progress (POP) hand delivered a letter to New Jersey State Attorney General Zelima V. Farber on April 11, regarding re-opening the murder case of Earl Faison. It has been seven years since the aspiring rapper died at age 27 at the hands of five Orange, New Jersey police officers, who had arrested him as a suspect in the murder of a fellow police officer.
The U.S. Attorney said that Faison died in a “stairwell of torture” because he was brutalized out of the sight of those who were present in the Orange police station where they were holding him. Police officials stated in 1999 that Faison died of an asthma attack. While he remained handcuffed, Faison was beaten and pepper sprayed in his mouth and nose.
The POP letter to the attorney general stated that the case should be reopened because Taison lost more than his civil rights, he lost his life and someone must be held accountable for his death.” It also stated in the letter that if “the murder case of Emmett Till can be reopened after 50 years…then the case of Earl Faison can be reopened after seven years.”
Fight Back! talked on May 8 with Elizabeth (Bonnie) Moore, whose son Rasheed, 26, was killed in January by Newark, NJ police officer Thomas Ruane (see Fight Back! March/April 2005.) Fight Back! also talked with Earl Williams, whose son Earl Faison was killed by Orange, NJ policemen in April of 1999. After a struggle of five years, led by the Faison’s family and by the People’s Organization for Progress, four cops were sentenced to terms of 33 months each for violations of the victim’s civil rights. One officer was sentenced to nine years.
Protesters gathered on December 19, in front of the Peter Rodino Federal Building here to demand that the five Orange, New Jersey police officers convicted in December 2000 in the death of Earl Faison, 27, be sent to jail.
December 19 marks the third anniversary of the guilty verdicts in the Faison case. “It has been three years and the five officers found guilty in federal court of violating Mr. Faison’s civil rights have not been to jail or even sentenced for their crimes,” Larry Hamm, head of the Newark-based group Peoples Organization for Progress, told The Final Call. “We are out here today to call attention to the injustices facing Black people.”
Mr. Faison, an innocent Black man who was wrongly apprehended as a suspect in the murder of Orange police officer Joyce Anne Carnegie, died after being in police custody for 45 minutes on April 11, 1999.
Why No State Police Reform From Whitman? Growing Coalition Calls for Independent Auditor & Civilian Complaint Review Board for State Police
On July 13, 1999-thirty years after an incident of police brutality helped spark the Newark riots-a broad coalition of organizations called upon Governor Whitman to make the State Police accountable to independent bodies, not just the Attorney General’s office. The organizations included the ACLU-NJ, Black Ministers Council, NJ Coalition Against Police Brutality, NJ Lesbian and Gay Coalition, and People’s Organization for Progress.
The NJ NAACP has since joined the call for real reform, and other organizations that want to end bigotry and bad policing are encouraged to contact the ACLU-NJ.
“A civilian complaint review board and an outside auditor will ensure that the State fulfills its promise of a new, improved State Police force,” said Rev. Dwight Gill of the Black Ministers Council. “Without those mechanisms, the public will continue—with good reason—to doubt the integrity of the State Police.”