Mayor Stack and Union City Police Chief respond to the death of George Floyd

Chief Nichelle Luster said the conduct of the officer charged with murdering Floyd erodes trust between police and their communities

Mayor Stack and Chief Luster march with protestors on June 2. Photo by Leonidas Cruz.
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Mayor Stack and Chief Luster march with protestors on June 2. Photo by Leonidas Cruz.

Protests and riots continue across the country in response to police brutality against African Americans. In New Jersey, largely peaceful protests have occurred across the state from Trenton to Newark, with local officers marching with protesters against police violence in some municipalities.

On June 2, a peaceful protest occurred in Union City in which Mayor Brian Stack and Chief of Police Nichelle Luster were spotted marching at the front with protestors. When the march stopped to take a knee in honor of George Floyd and other lives lost to police brutality, both Mayor Stack and Chief Luster took a knee with protestors.

Mayor Stack was also present at the North Hudson peaceful protest on June 7, which marched from Braddock Park in North Bergen to Union City.

Mayor Stack and Chief Luster offered their condolences concerning the May 25 death of George Floyd.

Floyd was an unarmed African-American man who was killed in Minneapolis when police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

Floyd was later pronounced dead. Chauvin has since been fired and charged with murder and manslaughter.

Mayor Stack said that the unjust death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers is a solemn reminder of how our society fails certain portions of the population.

“The tragic death of Mr. George Floyd represents a complete breakdown of what our country was founded upon. It serves as a painful reminder of the failings of our society and demands for us to do better,” Mayor Stack said.

“The base of our democracy depends on our ability to change the narrative about race in this country and to bring justice to those who have been discriminated against by those who swore to serve and protect them.”

Over the last few months, the “new normal” from the COVID-19 pandemic has placed a tremendous amount of stress upon everyone. But, in difficult times, Mayor Stack said that Union City has always stood together in solidarity as one community.

Stack, who is also Union City’s police director, said that if there is change in the local community prompted from Floyd’s death, it should be done together, hand-in-hand with the police.

“It is my hope that these horrific events do not drive a wedge between the relationships the police department have with the community,” Stack continued. “If we are going create change for the betterment of Union City, we must do so together.”

To actually serve and protect

Chief Luster offered her condolences for George Floyd, saying that she was deeply saddened and disturbed by the events in Minneapolis. Luster said that the actions that resulted in the death of Mr. George Floyd are contrary to New Jersey police training standards and contrary to New Jersey law.

“The conduct of that former officer erodes the trust that we work so hard to establish within our communities and mars the reputation of hard-working law-enforcement professionals everywhere,” Chief Luster said.

Police officers have a duty and a responsibility to serve with compassion, proficiency and respect and, according to Luster, anything less is unacceptable. Despite the unrest across the country, Luster said she is proud of the relationship the department has with their residents in Union City.

“Only through partnership, communication, constructive criticism, and understanding of individual differences, can we be successful,” Luster said. “My heartfelt thanks go out to the Union City community for your continued support.”

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.