Anthracite Unite is condemning Democratic Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-08) for awarding a $1.4 million COPS Hiring Program (CHP) grant to the Hazleton City Police Department (HCPD) and for announcing receipt of the award on Tuesday, June 2 as people protested and mourned the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
We are aware that Congressman Cartwright has showed up at multiple local Black Lives Matter rallies, however this move contradicts the essence of these demonstrations.
Hazleton doesn’t need more police officers. If we learned one thing as a country these past two weeks, it is that additional funding to hire more police will not make communities such as Hazleton – a majority-minority city governed entirely by white folks – safer. In fact, for local Latinx folks, especially youth, the opposite is true.
In February 2019, many members of our Latinx community and their allies cried out in pain after watching a young woman of color have her head slammed against a cafeteria table by a school police officer, who still has his job “policing” our schools.
Nearly every week, it seems, we hear new reports of Latinx youth being profiled and harassed with impunity by the HCPD.
And as the Congressman is aware, Latinx folks have been scapegoated and targeted by city officials for almost two decades in Hazleton. Including earlier this year when the city was rife with innuendo that immigrant workers were to blame for the local spread of COVID-19.
Adding more police officers is not the solution in a town plagued by racism.
By adding more police, Congressman Cartwright is disregarding the cries for justice we are currently hearing across the country.
What we need at this time is a leader willing to focus on providing the resources our community needs, not someone posturing as an enlightened law and order politician, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic leaving so many of our people jobless and hungry.
We demand that the Congressman take a firm stance against racist police brutality and that he does so through actions, not words.
Black lives matter. Defund the police.