Johnson’s Journal – December 2020
From Assemblyman Gordon M. Johnson – Speaker Pro Tempore
Chairman, Commerce and Economic Development Committee
Perspectives on Racial Injustice and Law Enforcement
As the first African-American Sheriff of Bergen County, a long-time Englewood police officer, and as your Assemblyman, I have always aimed to build bridges and build trust in the community.
The NJ General Assembly has passed a number of measures to confront the challenges in our law enforcement community, and we will continue to do so. Thank you to the Rotary Club of Englewood for putting together this important conversation about needed reforms and racial justice.
Answering the Call for Social Justice
The Assembly heard the call for social justice and we’re answering it
As a legislator and a member of the state’s Legislative Black Caucus, I am proud of the work we’ve done in leading the way on social justice reform. We're creating revenue for Black and brown communities, changing policing and the justice system.
The year 2020 has been unlike any other year the world has seen in the last 100 years. Combatting the wide-ranging impact of a global pandemic on our communities and businesses has been the highest priority for myself and my colleagues in the Assembly. As we worked through the last several months to assess COVID-19 and its effects on residents and the state economy, longstanding community concerns surrounding social justice and much-needed reforms rose to the forefront, not only here in New Jersey but throughout the nation.
The Assembly took quick action to condemn the use of deadly force and rebuild trust between communities and policing. We also passed a cannabis decriminalization bill, a companion to adult-use cannabis legalization overwhelmingly approved by New Jersey voters on Election Day. This legislation will begin to confront the generational impact of cannabis prohibition on Black and brown communities.
Our work is not done. We are only beginning to tackle systemic issues, particularly those facing Black and brown communities.
COVID-19 is a very present battle we are fighting, yet, social justice reform and equality for all New Jerseyans also requires our immediate and steadfast attention as we heal as a nation from this global pandemic and systemic injustice that has permeated our communities for too long.
This winter, we give thanks to all the members of our community who have chipped in and served the public throughout the pandemic. I’m beyond grateful for our essential workers, frontline workers, volunteers, and community leaders. I had the opportunity to witness the great work our volunteers do at DCVYP’s Table to Table Tuesday Food Distribution, which has served more than 100,000 meals since March. Now more than ever before, we must uplift each other and support every member of our community, filling the future with strength, optimism, and resilience.
To those who are celebrating Hanukkah this week, I wish you all a blessed, peaceful, and happy holiday!
Throughout this winter, COVID-19 cases are projected by the CDC to rise precipitously.
However, if we maintain social distancing, wear masks, and restrict gathering in groups, it doesn’t have to be this way. With the recent announcements by Pfizer, Moderna, and the University of Oxford, a coronavirus vaccine is right around the corner.
By springtime, we hope to see the widespread distribution of a vaccine to protect the members of our community, starting with our frontline healthcare workers. As such, I urge all members of our community to act responsibly to prevent the spread of COVID-19 over the course of the coming months.
Additionally, I applaud those who have exercised resilience and strength throughout the pandemic and encourage them to continue doing so. After all we have been through, the light of a vaccine is right around the corner.
WIMBERLY, JOHNSON & HOLLEY BILL TO ENSURE DIVERSITY AMONG NJ LAW ENFORCEMENT NOW LAW
To ensure law enforcement agencies reflect the diversity of the communities they serve, legislation requiring all law enforcement agencies in New Jersey to establish minority recruitment and selection programs was signed into law.
The law (formerly bill A-2394) will further require annual reporting on recruitment, retention and promotion of officers providing information specific to age, gender, race and ethnicity. This information will be published in a yearly report and made available online by the Attorney General.
Sponsors of the bill, Assembly Democrats Benjie E. Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic), Gordon M. Johnson (D-Bergen) and Jamel C. Holley (D-Union), issued the following joint statement:
“The Black community in America is in pain and reeling in the wake of senseless police-perpetrated violence. A breakdown of trust between communities of color and police in America is evident.
“We must start with being intentional about the way our law enforcement agencies mirror the evolving racial diversity of the communities they protect and serve. Being more deliberate in hiring minorities will make our police departments more inclusive and ultimately translate into better relationships with communities.
“It all comes down to breaking cycles of bias. In building the mechanisms to tackle underrepresentation and keep agencies accountable to greater diversity, we have an opportunity to do just that.”
ASSEMBLYMAN JOHNSON PLANS BILL TO PREVENT NEW ICE FACILITIES & CONTRACT RENEWALS IN NEW JERSEY
In response to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) potentially seeking to open a new detention facility within New Jersey, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen) announced his plan to introduce legislation that would prohibit contract renewals and new ICE facilities in the state.
“Many advocates and residents throughout our state have voiced their opposition to the detainment of immigrants,” said Assemblyman Johnson. “We must listen to the people of our state who are calling for an end to ICE contracts in New Jersey.”
Under his proposed bill, correctional facilities would be prohibited from entering into a new contract or renewing/expanding an existing contract for the detainment of immigrants in New Jersey.
“The outrage and hurt many New Jerseyans are feeling right now is both understandable and warranted – I feel it too,” said Johnson. “Over the past several years, we have heard story after story of human rights atrocities committed in ICE facilities.”
Other lawmakers including U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker have also spoken out against New Jersey counties making agreements with ICE.
“New Jersey is a state that stands for justice and equality, and ICE’s actions do not align with those values. We must put an end to ICE detainment in our state,” said Johnson. If signed into law, the bill would take effect immediately.
Gordon M. Johnson was elected by the people of the 37th District of Bergen County to the New Jersey State General Assembly in 2001. Assemblyman Johnson serves in the position of Speaker Pro Tempore, Chair of the Commerce and Economic Development Committee, and a member of the Budget Committee, and the Judiciary Committee.
Paid for by Johnson for Assembly. Jeffrey Richardson, Treasurer. PO Box 14, Tenafly, NJ 07670. Produced in house.