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Sharpton Arrested in Police Protest on N.J. Expressway

July 04, 1999|From Associated Press

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The Rev. Al Sharpton and 74 other people were arrested Saturday when they converged on the Atlantic City Expressway to protest racial profiling by state police.

Sharpton arrived with five busloads of protesters wearing T-shirts emblazoned with "New Jersey, the police state" on the front and "Stop the korrupt kop killers, Christine Whitman and her hitmen" on the back, referring to the New Jersey governor.

"It's a warning shot that we are here to fight for justice," said Michael Hardy, the minister's attorney.

Police had diverted traffic from the demonstration before it began. Still, traffic headed into Atlantic City was backed up for as much as three miles from the exit, where it was diverted off the expressway.

Sharpton and the protesters knelt on the roadway and put up no resistance when they were arrested and taken away in a police bus.

Sharpton said that Gov. Christine Todd Whitman has been slow to acknowledge the existence of a problem in her state with racial profiling, which is the targeting of specific minorities for traffic stops.

Whitman spokesman Peter McDonough had no comment.

Among the people arrested were the mother and sister of Stanton Crew, a black motorist who was shot to death by police on Interstate 80 last month.

The demonstration came one day after a review team released a report that said state police have done little to fight harassment and discrimination within the ranks and have lagged in recruitment of women and minorities.

The report also called for the creation of a permanent civilian review panel to oversee state police.

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