Rethinking the police: what can the US learn from Newark?

The New Jersey city had one of the worst reputations for police violence in the US, but as the Guardian’s Ankita Rao discovers, it is leading the charge for reform under a new mayor

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When protests erupted in cities across the US after the killing of George Floyd, police responded with aggression and in some cases teargas. In Newark, New Jersey, the mood was tense: the city has a long history of police brutality. The 1967 uprising after the beating of a black taxi drivier resulted in the deaths of 26 people. But this time, there was no violence, no looting and not a single arrest was made.

The Guardian’s Ankita Rao tells Anushka Asthana that this is a result of the recent reforms to policing in the city where the recruitment has taken place of a police force that better reflects Newark’s demographics. Also community groups have become involved in patrols and citizen review boards oversee police use of force. It’s ideas such as these that have gained traction in recent weeks behind the banner of ‘defund the police’ in many cities – although it is a phrase that Newark’s mayor, Ras Baraka, is keen to downplay.

US senate candidate and march organiser Larry Hamm of the Peoples Organization for Progress appears during a Justice for George Floyd protest and rally in Newark, New Jersey
Photograph: Brian Branch Price/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock
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