The Jersey Journal censored black voices amid police brutality protest

The Jersey Journal – the liberal newspaper which covers Jersey City for NJ-dot-com – censored black voices that sought answers for how a cop accused of excessive force was originally hired.

Chris Gadsden - Jersey Journal - Bryant Rowan, Jr.

Lincoln High School Principal Chris Gadsden (left) and JCPD P.O. Bryant Rowan, Jr. (right).

When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of “the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice,” he was describing the type of people that control The Jersey Journal (Journal) – the liberal newspaper which covers Jersey City.

Despite New Jersey being one of America’s most liberal states, and Jersey City being arguably its most progressive city, it would probably shock many to find out the local establishment media would censor black voices. Unfortunately, that’s the harsh reality of what the Journal does on behalf of Hudson County Democrats (and nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd couldn’t even change that).

Specifically, on October 28, 2020, the Journal published a response by political activist Chris Gadsden (who is black) to a letter written by Mayor Steven Fulop (a white Democrat) regarding police reform. However, the newspaper censored Gadsden’s voice by omitting this key passage from his full piece :

 “Who helped Officer Bryant Rowan Jr. get on the force after you and civil service saw that he was not fit to be an officer in 2016? (Mayor Fulop protected his political friend.) If he was not on the force, he would not have violated our trust by wielding that baton the way he did on May 5, 2020 on Bostwick Avenue. You defend abuse.”

Rowan is a Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) police officer who was involved in a highly publicized incident that was investigated by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office (HCPO) as possible police brutality. Ultimately, the HCPO exonerated Rowan of criminal charges, but the prosecutor’s office did claim they “will closely oversee this administrative review by the JCPD which could result in discipline and/or officer retraining.”

Nevertheless, the issue which Gadsden raised, and the Journal censored, was about how Rowan was originally hired.

A June 14, 2020, Real Garden State investigative report revealed that the Civil Service Commission denied Rowan’s appeal of an unsatisfactory background check in November 2016, but after campaigning for Fulop in 2017, he was hired as an officer in January 2019. On top of censoring Gadsden’s words, the Journal also refused to report the words of another black political activist, Frank Gilmore (aka Educational Gilmore), who raised the same issue at a July 6, 2020, press conference.

Of note, during the course of the Real Garden State investigation it was learned that not only did Rowan campaign for Fulop, he was a Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) committeeman. The Journal declined to comment on this story. Specifically, they would not answer why Gadsden & Gilmore’s voice were censored and which of the following claims is factually incorrect:

  1. Rowan failed a background check and when he appealed in 2016 the city’s original determination was upheld.
  2. Rowan is a HCDO committeeman.
  3. Rowan actively campaigned for Fulop’s reelection in 2017.
  4. After Fulop’s successful reelection campaign, Rowan was hired to be a JCPD cop.

Even worse, not only did the Journal censor black voices, they let Fulop’s spokesperson slander black activists by stating “Chris Gadsen would like to exploit this situation with misinformation for personal gain and politicize violence against police officers.” Of note, that direct quote misspelt Gadsden’s last name and it’s not clear whether the city spokesperson or Journal did that intentionally.

More importantly, it’s hard to imagine how Rowan’s background check and connections to Fulop is not newsworthy to any legitimate news organization. Nevertheless, in Hudson County, powerful white Democrats continue to be protected by the Journal – to the detriment of Jersey City’s black community and activists.

Finally, to the average internet reader there’s no difference between The Jersey Journal and New Jersey Advance Media (NJAM). Practically speaking, it’s all NJ-dot-com, so NJAM shares some culpability with the Journal for censoring black voices.

Quite frankly, it’s hard to imagine that if it turned out Rowan was a rabid supporter of ex-Pres. Donald Trump, the liberal newspaper would’ve censored black voices and refused to report such a fact.

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