The People’s Organization For Progress (POP) calls upon the Bridgewater Commons mall to lift the ban against two boys involved in a fight that recently took place there which has drawn national attention.
In the aftermath of the fight a spokesperson for the mall stated that both boys, Z’Kye and Joseph, were banned from the mall.
At its meeting last night the organization discussed the ban and decided it would publicly call upon the mall to lift the ban on both boys.
“We condemn the decision made by the Bridgewater Commons mall to ban the boys. It was wrong and we call upon the mall to lift the ban,” stated Lawrence Hamm, Chairman of the People’s Organization For Progress. “We believe this decision by the mall was premature and ill conceived.”
“The management of the mall should have at least waited until until the investigation of the Attorney General was complete and his findings were released before deciding whether or not to ban them,” Hamm said. “Z’Kye was the victim of racially disparate treatment by the police. He was the victim of racial profiling and police brutality. Now he is doubly punished by being banned from the mall.”
“He is a banned person. This sounds like South Africa when it was under the racist system of apartheid, and the American South under Jim Crow,” Hamm continued.
Hamm said this decision not only has a detrimental impact on the boys. It demonstrates an insensitivity towards the Black community, people of color, and people of conscience of all races who want justice for Z’Kye.
“Perhaps shoppers at the mall should think seriously about whether or not to spend their spend their money at a mall that exhibits such insensitivity. Perhaps they should consider spending their money elsewhere,” Hamm said. “During the Civil Rights Movement we boycotted businesses that were insensitive to the needs of our community.”
The incident has drawn national attention because of the way they police handled the incident and their disparate treatment of the boys.
The younger Black teen was immediately tackled, forced face down, and handcuffed with both police officers putting their knees on his back. The light skinned older teen was placed on a couch and not handcuffed.
POP believes this to be a clear case of racial profiling and police brutality. The group called a press conference last Saturday to denounce the actions of the police. Representatives of more than twenty other organizations made statements condemning the police.
POP has additional demands besides lifting the ban.
“We demands that the officers should be fired and charged for any wrong doing, their names should be released publicly, their disciplinary records released, and their body cam videos should be released to the public,” Hamm said.
In addition, he said the town of Bridgewater should do a racial bias audit of all aspects of its policing and present a plan as to how it is going to root out racially biased and discriminatory practices and policies in the police department.
Also, POP demands that Bridgewater establish a police review board with subpoena powers, require racial bias testing and training, require de-escalation training, and that the mayor should issue an apology to Z’Kye, his family, and the black community.
The group is meeting via Zoom tonight with area residents, activists, volunteers, and concerned citizens to plan future actions related to this issue.