Like many of you, we are deeply troubled by a recent report in the Trentonian of a Facebook post and responses by Hopewell Township Police officers and employees concerning the Black Lives Matter movement. We are in contact with Hopewell Township, and have been assured that an investigation is underway and that the matter is being taken very seriously. While this is primarily a Township personnel matter, the incident affects the Borough as the Hopewell Township Police are our police too.
Let us be absolutely clear: our residents who have joined the call for justice in their support of the Black Lives Matter movement are not “terrorists.” They are our fellow Americans exercising their inalienable right to seek positive change through peaceful demonstration. They include our neighbors, our children, our friends and colleagues, and in this case, the elected representatives in Hopewell Borough. We stand together in the call to end racism and injustice here in Hopewell and everywhere.
As elected leaders, we believe that we have a duty to speak up and take action in response to intolerance, bigotry, and racism. We pledge to do everything in our power to ensure that our police officers and all municipal employees serving our community are held to the highest standards, always.
The relationship between our community and our police department has been one of partnership and respect. Our police officers are our neighbors, friends and family. While we continue to support our police and other first responders who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe, we must uphold our duty as a governing body to ensure that each and every member of our community is treated fairly, justly, and with respect. We are duty bound to confront and end institutional racism in our community wherever we find it.
We are all called upon to love and respect one another as neighbors. It is easy to be lulled into thinking that racism isn’t present here in Hopewell, or that we are somehow “better than this.” It is painful to admit to ourselves that our community, like our nation, still has such a long way to go in achieving true racial equality and justice. To achieve this, we must each listen to and be respectful of all voices within our community, especially those whose life experiences may be different than our own, and do our best to understand what it is like to walk in their shoes.
As a governing body, we are dedicated to the hard work of listening to every voice in our community, learning, and bringing about positive change wherever and whenever we can. That is our promise to you: our commitment to do better, together, until we truly are “better than this.” Until together, we can finally affirm that we are all equal.