Date: Sat, 8 May 1999 18:30:46 -0700 (PDT)
From: Workers World <>
Message-ID: <>
Precedence: bulk
Subject: [BRC-NEWS] N.J. admits police target Black, Latino drivers

Gov’t admits police target Black, Latino Drivers

By Greg Butterfield, Workers World, 13 May 1999

Protest is growing in New Jersey over the now-admitted State Police policy of racial profiling—the singling out of Black and Latino motorists for abuse. It has been the common practice of state troopers—not only in New Jersey, but nationwide—for many years.

But the now-blossoming movement to end this form of police brutality was sparked by the April 23, 1998, shooting of four unarmed young men—three Black and one Latino—by two white New Jersey troopers.

The Black Ministers Council of New Jersey organized a demonstration outside the State Capitol in Trenton on the anniversary of the shooting. The Rev. Al Sharpton, who led mass civil-disobedience actions against police brutality in New York, said he would conduct similar protests in Trenton if community demands are not met by May 10.

The four men were on their way to a basketball camp in North Carolina when they were pulled over on the New Jersey Turnpike and shot at by the cops. Two of the men, Rayshawn Brown and Leroy Grant, were asleep in the van when they were shot. Keyshon Moore and Danny Reyes were shot while raising their hands.

Afterward, the men were forced to lie in a ditch and were strip-searched before paramedics were allowed to help them, according to a civil-rights lawsuit filed on their behalf April 23. The two cops also face criminal charges, but have not been indicted.

It’s been a hard-fought year for all of us, Leroy Grant told the Associated Press. We don’t know why we got shot. We still don’t know why the van got stopped.


On April 21, Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and state Attorney General Peter G. Verniero released an official study which found that Minority motorists have been treated differently than non-minority motorists during the course of traffic stops on the New Jersey Turnpike. We conclude the problem of disparate treatment is real—not imagined.

According to the report, 77.2 percent of motorist searches were of Black and Latino drivers, and only 21.4 percent were of whites.

We do not believe that any reasonable person in New Jersey is surprised at all today to hear this acknowledgment, said the Rev. Reginald Jackson, executive director of the Black Ministers Council.

Verniero continues to deny any prior knowledge of the racist abuses of the State Police, who are under the direction of his office. For years—first as Governor Whitman’s chief of staff, and later as attorney general— Verniero aggressively defended the police against brutality charges.

Before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Trenton April 26, Verniero refused to take responsibility. Based on briefings I received, I did not consider [`racial profiling’] important, Verniero testified.

The next day, he angered Black and Latino legislators by boycotting a hearing they organized to gather community testimony about racial profiling. But damning evidence continued to spill out.

Philip J. Moran, the attorney for State Trooper Emblez Longoria, testified there. Two months before the shooting of the men in the van, Moran said, his client heard a police supervisor coaching the same two cops to stop Black motorists.

Longoria could not appear himself. Under State Police regulations, he is restricted from speaking publicly about the matter.

DeShantel Tribbet, a Black woman, told of her experience at the hands of state troopers. Tribbet was verbally abused, thrown against a police van and arrested in front of her frightened 4-year-old son.


On April 27, the Newark Star-Ledger broke the story of a State Police program enlisting motel employees to snitch on suspicious guests—particularly Latinos and Spanish-speaking people, hotel workers said.

David Feeback, president and business manager of Hotel and Restaurant Employees Local 69 in Seacaucus, said his members protested when hotel management tried to force them to join the program several months ago.

We didn’t want our members participating in anything that had any undertone of racial profiling, Feeback told the Star-Ledger.

Meanwhile, the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups called on Congress to enact the Traffic Stops Statistics Study Act introduced by Rep. John Conyers to help curb racial profiling nationally.

The Conyers bill would require the U.S. Justice Department to study routine traffic stops by local police. Preliminary studies have shown that African Americans make up less than 15 percent of drivers, but account for 72 percent of all routine traffic stops, said the April 17 Amsterdam News.

The United States Justice Department concluded its own investigation of the N.J. State Police in late April. The federal study found enough evidence to sue the State Police for violations of civil rights. But on April 30, Washington announced it was entering negotiations with New Jersey officials to reach a quiet out-of-court settlement.