Activists plan march on Dover ‘Community Day of Healing,’ May 28, in response to violent arrest of Morristown teen

Crypian Luke, center, at detention hearing, May 24, 2019, with Public Defenders Elizabeth Cervenak and Thomas Belsky. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Crypian Luke, center, at detention hearing, May 24, 2019, with Public Defenders Elizabeth Cervenak and Thomas Belsky. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Activists said they plan a march to Dover’s “Community Day of Healing” special meeting on Tuesday, May 28, 2019, to press for police reforms in the wake of the violent arrest of Morristown teen Cyprian Luke earlier this month.

The 7 pm meeting at the Dover Community Center was called by Mayor James Dodd after videos shared via social media showed the 19-year-old Luke being pinned to the ground and punched in the face by police during a weekend arrest.

Police said they had been pursuing Luke on warrants stemming from a domestic violence charge; they charged him with resisting arrest and giving a false name. Three officers were placed on paid leave while the state Attorney General’s Office investigates the arrest,

Organizers from Black Lives Matter and the Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center in Morristown said they plan to march from the Dover First United Methodist Church to the Community Center at 41 East Blackwell Street at 6 pm.

“We are cautious about this so-called ‘Healing Meeting’ and will not be dissuaded from our right to protest. As evidenced in the NJ.Com Force Report, the Dover Police Department uses force at a higher rate than most other communities in New Jersey,” said Morristown activist and attorney, Kisha J. Pinnock.

“Dover’s Mayor, James Dodd, dismisses race as an issue but uses a website to picture the only black Alderwoman lynched on a tree. It will be a long healing process, especially if this town avoids accountability and postpones justice,” said Morristown activist and attorney, Kisha J. Pinnock.

Pinnock said community demands include the state Attorney General’s oversight of the Dover police department, an updated use-of-force policy prohibiting the choking and punching used against Cyprian Luke, the adoption of a body camera law centered around the interests of the public instead of the police, bias testing and training, and an independent community review board.

Wind of the Spirit community organizer and Co-President Karol Y. Ruiz, also an attorney, said “healing requires accountability, inclusion, reparations, and a commitment to preventing future harm.

“The promises of implicit bias training, police body cameras, and a public forum are welcome first steps that this community has long requested; much, much more is needed. We will march with the people as long as necessary to see real change.”

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