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|Rapid Response Alert - Bass River, NJ|
MOBB United for Social Change demands justice for Maurice Gordon
M.O.B.B. United for Social Change demands justice for Maurice Gordon, a New Jersey motorist killed by a law enforcement officer on May 23, 2020, only two days before the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked global protests.
Mr. Gordon was waiting on a tow truck to help get his car started after being pulled over for speeding. His car would not start after he turned the ignition off after being pulled over. As they were waiting on the tow truck for Mr. Gordon's car, Trooper Sgt. Randall Wetzel offered to let Mr. Gordon sit in the back of his patrol car, which Mr. Gordon agreed to do. After more than 30 minutes of sitting and waiting with no information being provided and no indication that he was under arrest, Mr. Gordon attempted twice to remove his seatbelt and exit the back of the squad car but was asked by Trooper Wetzel to put his seat belt back on, and he complied with the officer’s instructions. On his third attempt to remove the seat belt and exit the car, Trooper Wetzel became physically aggressive and eventually shot Mr. Gordon several times.
This encounter followed nearly 24 hours of Maurice Gordon seemingly being in mental distress. Twenty four hours prior to Mr. Gordon being killed by Trooper Wetzel, a friend of Mr. Gordon called Dutchess County, NY Police hoping they would find and check on Mr. Gordon, who his friend said had been making strange statements and having paranormal experiences, but this information was not passed on to other officers who stopped him. During one of the stops, an officer asked where he was going since he was allegedly driving 110 miles per hour. Mr. Gordon is seen on video responding, “To a very far place,” and “ I’m trying to get to the end of the video game.” The officer didn’t issue a ticket and politely sent Mr. Gordon on his way.
Failure to provide aid to a man experiencing a mental health crisis led to his death. The fact that multiple officers failed to see and report the warning signs of a man clearly in need of help illustrates the need for an overhaul in policing. Many officers are not trained or equipped to handle mental illness or breakdowns, and as a result, lives are needlessly cut short. At least 25% of people who are shot and killed by police officers are suffering from acute mental illness at the time of the shooting. As many as half of those killed by law enforcement are believed to have a disability. The system needs to be reformed so that every stop isn’t met with the potential for deadly force.
M.O.B.B. United for Social Change will not stand idly by and watch Black men and boys be killed needlessly by law enforcement. We demand complete accountability and police reform in New Jersey. Mr. Gordon's death could have been prevented had resources been allocated differently and officers were better trained to ensure Mr. Gordon's safety and well being. There also needs to be better communication between police precincts to ensure the public’s safety. Had first Police Officers who encountered Mr. Gordon responded to indications of the mental health challenges, he might have been alive today.
There are clear inequities in policing in
New Jersey. Only 13.7% of the population is Black, but 50% of civilians wounded by police are Black. We also know that Black people are policed at a much higher rate in New Jersey, which must stop. Changing this narrative will require city and state
leadership to mandate that law enforcement agencies better serve the Black community and provide real safety for all communities.
Call To Action
Join your voices with ours at M.O.B.B. United for Social Change in making our demands.
When making phone calls, be polite but firm. Email links will auto-populate a pre-scripted email. All you have to do is click, sign and send with the option of adding your custom message.
M.O.B.B. United for Social Change, Inc. is a nationwide coalition of moms who are dedicated to making the world a safer place for Black boys and men by eradicating harassment, brutality and unwarranted use of deadly force by law enforcement and others
against our sons. The group was born out of frustration over the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile in Minnesota and numerous other innocent Black boys and men killed by police before and after them. It has grown into a mobilized
force of moms
determined to make a difference. We aim to influence both policy and perception that impact how Black boys and men are treated by law enforcement.