One year ago Saturday, May 15, when Newark police beat Basire Farrell to death while in handcuffs, Mayor Cory Booker was riding high on the Oprah Effect (see Black NJ: People's Organization for Progress Transforms Victims into Fighters, and Hollywood Mayor Looks to Move Up — And Out of Newark for previous FotM coverage of this case). This "Hollywood Bubble" seemed to grant our pretty young mayor license to commit heinous acts that no Newark leader has gotten away with since Hugh Addonizio "literally delivering the city into the hands of organized crime," according to the former U.S. District Judge who tried the case. And if you ask Newark residents of the period, turning over city government to the mob was less significant than the violent police attacks on the Black community.
With Mayor "Hollywood" Booker, once again the cops have an Addonizio-esque freedom to harrass our youth. Booker's self-proclaimed success heading into the recent election was that he'd reduce crime, a complete fabrication based on funny-math and manipulated statistics. And while some commentators may point to the fact that Booker retained the mayoralty by a 59% margin, the most telling indicator is how well Cliff Minor did with minimal funding. Minor defeated Booker the South Ward 5,028 to 4,025, notwithstanding the more than 20-to-1 campaign-finance difference. Likewise, Cory's staunchest ally, South Ward Councilman Oscar James, lost by a landslide to Ras Baraka.
Councilman Ras Baraka addresses rally at the site of Basire Farrell's murder
What does this have to do with the police murder of Basire Farrell? It was probably best explained by District Leader Lynda Lloyd, herself a victim of police brutality, who thanked and congratulated Ras Baraka for attending the rally. "Oscar James would never have attended this rally," Ms. Lloyd said, referring to the previous councilman.
South Ward/Clinton Hills District Leader Lynda Lloyd
Basire's aunt, Sharonda Smalls, echoed these sentiments through barely controlled tears as she called for accountability from elected officials for ALL police violence in Newark and Essex County. Sharonda, a true people's leader in both POP and the South Ward, applauded Councilman Baraka for his commitment to the community. Ms. Smalls spoke from personal experience about Baraka's role as a teacher and school principal. "We know, love, and respect this young man," she said, "who has served as a mentor to so many of us and our children."