Tuesday, July 15, 2014










(With updated links)

(Tuesday July 15, 2014 Kennedy Blvd. & Communipaw Ave., JC, NJ) If ever the anti “Stop, Question and Frisk” crowd, the liberal pundits, race baiters, self-appointed community activists, African American Studies professors and the host of sociologists, social psychologists and apologists of every stripe needed a vivid demonstration that strips most of their core arguments to all its ugly bare naked essentials, today in Jersey City that demonstration could be seen.  At the site in front of the Walgreens Pharmacy on this corner is a small collection of flowers, votive candles, prayer cards surrounding the photo graph of the JCPD Officer, Melvin Santiago who was assassinated in an ambushed early Sunday morning.  It is a humble gesture of respect and pedestrians could be seen today pausing and making the sign of the cross as they offered their own prayer for the deceased 23 year old Officer who had been patrolling that neighborhood for the last seven months.

A short walk from this corner there is another somewhat larger display paying homage to the career criminal, 27 year old Lawrence Campbell who lured Officer Santiago to his death and executed him before Santiago even had a chance to exit his patrol car.  This display is an odd collection of flowers and empty liquor bottles.  Two white tee shirts are taped to the red brick wall with marker pens hanging from their collars for passers-by to write a message on the shirts.  It is considerably larger than the memorial for Officer Santiago and it has been a flashpoint of anger and disgust for all law abiding citizens of Jersey City and well beyond.  Campbell’s memorial has received international attention especially after Campbell’s wife was quoted saying that she wishes her husband would have killed more Police Officers, “taken more of them down with him if he knew they was gonna shot him like a dog”.  Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop ordered Campbell’s “memorial” to be taken down and, on and off today, it has been resurrected only to be quickly removed again by authorities. 


When Campbell entered the Walgreens about 4:00Am Sunday morning he was not there to commit robbery, to steal goods or any of the typical reasons.  Once he rendered the armed security guard useless, he took his gun and made the fateful call of a ‘robbery in progress’.  He then told one customer that she should “watch TV.  I’m going to be famous”.  He exited the store and hid in the shadows waiting for the Police to respond.  He shot and killed Officer Santiago at point blank range, literally in the blink of an eye.  Campbell was soon thereafter shot and killed by other responding Police units. Perhaps the reason that this Line of Duty Death has garnered media coverage the world over is that it is particularly heinous – evil, actually – even by the violent standards of today’s America.  It harkens back to a very grim and gritty chapter in our history when various militant groups, such as the Black Liberation Army, The Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam literally did declare “war” of the Law Enforcement Community.  During some of the most violent of the “race riots” in the late 1960’s into the mid 1970’s, these groups among other unaffiliated street thugs did wage open, pitched warfare with Police Departments from NYC, Newark and Camden NJ, to the Watts section of Los Angeles. 

Obviously Campbell’s “motive” will never be known for certain unless the investigation uncovers evidence that he was participating in some sort of organized street gang activity or other specific purpose.  All that is known for certain is that he sought to acquire some twisted degree of “fame” by assassinating a Police Officer.  That fact alone raises several serious questions regarding the nature of the hostility within the African American community today and the depths to which hatred of authority and the Police in particular goes.  That his neighbors seemed to “celebrate” his murderous, cowardly act by erecting a memorial is clearly demonstrative and appears to represent retrograde movement in our society and the African American community most notably.  In urban pockets coast to coast there are wide swathes of predominately African Americans whose neighborhoods still bear the scars of the riots that blazed through them decades ago.  There is a distinct, virulent strain among the majority of residents in such places that is aggressively distrustful of the Police to the point that they will harbor known killers, drug dealers and other felons despite the crime they bring to those vey same neighborhoods.  The Police in these locales are constantly stonewalled; they cannot get the scantest of assistant in an active investigation.  In many of our largest most densely populated cities these neighborhoods remain islands of all sorts of social ills that barely differ from the blights of the 60’s and 70’s. 


As median household income for African American families has increased and created a Black “middle class” the divides within the African American community as a whole are seen in stark relief.  Despite years of affirmative action and social welfare programs many African Americans live lives little different than that of their own parents.  In this time of convoluted “political correctness” even the terms of a discussion addressing these issues is not possible.  We have taken the concept of political correctness to such an extreme that it is far easier and less fraught with condemnation to avoid these discussions entirely.  For many the fear of sounding or appearing to be “racist” is so great that it trumps any opportunity for objective discourse or interaction. 

Racism is alive and well today and it is prevalent in the “White” and “Black” communities and it appears to pose an intractable obstacle towards better race relations.  Many liberals heralded the election of the first African American President, Barak Obama, as the line of demarcation between the societal ills of yesteryear and as the advent of a new “post-racial” America.  The naivety that allowed so many to believe that is undermined by reality.  The rapid ascendancy of a first term Senator from Illinois to the Presidency was more akin to “punching a ticket” than it was a galvanizing force uniting the diverse and disparate demographics of our country.  For some reason the fact that we – the United States – had never had a Black President was seen as a significant stigma to be rectified was ludicrous on its face and disingenuous.  We have never had an Italian American, a Jewish American, an Hispanic/Latino American President but a majority of voters felt the need to punch that ticket for Obama as if by mere fact of his elected office the country would undergo some profound transformation. 

Statistics of all types are notoriously malleable just as are theories in search of a proof.  Raw data, simple plain numbers however, can speak volumes in a very forthright manner.  A spreadsheet is nonbiased; it is a tally of numbers not subject to deeper interpretation.  But, many find raw numbers messy; they see them as untidy primitive hash marks devoid of value.  But raw numbers can be remarkably illuminating in there simplicity and do not require in depth analysis.  Crime rates are such raw numbers.  The typical complaint is that minority men (Black and Latino) are arrested in disproportional numbers compared to White men.  This is true; there is no need to recoil from this fact.  It is simply a numerical fact.  The interpretations and detailed analysis can be conducted in Ivory towers and think tanks.  On the streets the numbers speak for themselves.  Every manner of social ill can be assigned collectively as causative influences but they cannot gloss over the raw numbers.  The majority of crime committed in America is perpetrated by Black and Latino young men.  100% of crime in America is committed by 10% of the population and that 10% is overwhelmingly Black and Latino.

The fact that raw numbers remain off base and taboo occasionally surfaces as it has in the immediate wake of Officer Santiago’s execution.  Sean Bergin of the NYC Metro Area cable news station made comments on the air, comments that are wrapped in a tattered shroud of truth that resulted in his suspension.  Mr. Bergin, a respected local journalist allegedly made comments that were of a subjective and derogatory nature about a real blight that continues to plaque the African American community; that being that, in a significant majority of African American households there is no father.  The absence of a father, a responsible male has been long identified as an exacerbating factor in all households be they Black, White or Latino when it comes to the socio-emotional development of young boys as they prepare for adulthood.  The “No Role Model” argument has been tightly embraced by African American and other scholars alike but Mr. Bergin’s temerity to speak this truth provoked such ire that he may have lost his job at News 12 for good. 


According to sources in the JCPD and New Jersey State Police credible threats to Law Enforcement Officers have been made by the nationwide street gang, The Bloods, allegedly in retaliation for Campbell’s death by JCPD Officers.  These sources, speaking not for attribution, have been told that the gang has issued a threat stating they have intentions to “Kill a Jersey City cop and not stop until the National Guard is called out”.  One source in the upper echelons of the JCPD noted that this threat is “taken very seriously” since it came from a “reliable source” who has “provided gang related intelligence” in the past.  LEO across New Jersey have been issued alerts instructing them to be “Ultra cautious and very aware at all times”.  The precise membership of The Bloods in Jersey City is not known but other gang intelligence sources in the NYC Metro Area have issued warnings that Bloods from other states may descend on Jersey City to carry out retaliatory measures against LEO’s. 

Tensions are running high and the funeral services for both Officer Santiago and his assassin Lawrence Campbell may exacerbate and inflame passions on both sides of the law. Two other recent shooting events have already drawn wide criticism of the JCPD and the JC Public Safety Director James Shea.  With this latest episode gaining such prominence the JCPD and other Police Departments in Hudson, Essex and Bergen County are implementing measures to insure public safety and that of their membership.  Jersey City is the County seat of Hudson County, the most densely populated in the state.  The Law Enforcement Agencies in these communities often share intelligence and work cooperatively in various anti-crime operations. 

No one in any of the local LEA’s including JCPD was downplaying the risks associated with the threats made by The Bloods.  On the contrary; they have initiated a handful of new patrol protocols that are already being implemented.  As oneJCPD veteran Officer in the $th Patrol District commented, “We are prepared and confident.  I hope nothing else happens but we will sure meet whatever comes our way with superior force”.

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