NNJ-DSA Condemns Killing of Andrew Jerome Washington by the Jersey City Police Department
For Immediate Release: August 29th 2023
North New Jersey Democratic Socialists of America condemns the killing of Andrew Jerome Washington by the Jersey City Police Department. We are horrified that on this Sunday’s occurrence, family members specifically called for mental health professionals to respond and instead were met with an armed, swat-like police response.
Over the past month, the Jersey City Police were called six times to respond to reported mental health crises Andrew experienced, and even more shocking, in 2012 JCPD shot at Mr. Washington in what public safety Director James Shea calls “almost identical circumstances.”
This sanctioning of violence by the state is devastating to Jersey City residents, particularly because the city has yet to implement an entirely civilian-led crisis intervention team, despite the City Council allocating funding for one in 2022. It is clear that Jersey City does not prioritize necessary programs like these. Instead, they gladly accept tank-like machines that further empower Jersey City police to have swat-level responses to common mental health emergencies.
Because of the administration’s failure to address a wide swath of issues from police violence and chronic understaffing of 9-1-1 workers to housing issues like wrongful evictions and unlawful rent hikes, residents have had to be an active check on the administration. Residents are forced to navigate a system that refuses to protect their housing rights and does not answer their 9-1-1 calls. When the calls are answered, Jersey City residents now have to fear the police response that will come because of this pattern of violence.
North NJ DSA and other groups are actively fighting these gross miscarriages of justice and basic human decency, including by soon pushing this administration to implement another program that will protect Jersey City residents: a tenants’ right to counsel.
Based on population, a black person is 489% more likely to have force used on them than a white person in Jersey City. Also, people with mental illness are ten times more likely to have police force used against them than people without mental illness. Without further intervention and accountability this will happen again.
We join the calls for a complete and thorough investigation by the New Jersey Attorney General and for the full footage of the encounter with police to be released to the public. Mental health crises should not end in death. We also call on the Jersey City city council to comment on the progress of their crisis intervention initiative and to share how the allocated funding has been used thus far to prevent violent acts like this from occurring again. Residents of Jersey City deserve better–we deserve a thorough democratic investigation to keep those with the most power–those who wield the power and privilege of state violence–accountable to us.
Our resolve as a community is tested when one of our own falls to police brutality, but we see a vision for a world without such ruthlessness, and we work every day towards that world.
North New Jersey DSA is a regional chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. We believe that working people should run both the economy and society democratically to meet human needs, not to make profits for a few. We use a variety of tactics, from legislative to direct action, to fight for reforms that empower working people.
Organization: North NJ Democratic Socialists of America