"Serious questions remain unanswered"
Wednesday, December 6, 1989

Goldie Thomas was never hesitant to speak what was in her brilliant mind or her beautiful heart. She was intelligent, articulate, well-read, unafraid and much more. She was bravest, most vigilant activist I have ever known - even long after the popularity of activism in the '60s and '70s waned. Goldie never missed a trick and was so often the voice of the community. Since her passing, her beloved community still feels the loss and there is a void where her voice once echoed. I have this letter on my website by permission of her sister Marilyn.  - poetheart 07/04/01
   In response to the Civil Service hearing regarding New Brunswick Police Officer James Neal, I am hard put to understand the charges of "causing a riot-type situation." If it was a "riot-type situation," why weren't the police ordered to the scene of the incident? If it wasn't, why was Neal moved from his regular duties and subjected to a hearing with a possible 30-day suspension? If it was serious enough for this hearing, (someone obviously thought it was), the actions of Capt. Thomas Curran and the other policemen on duty that night leave serious unanswered questions.
   According to the Nov. 3 Home News, Officer Millroy stated he saw "a group of about 30 young men, some of whom were armed with bats and boards," yet he didn't stop and question them. I wonder if they had been going in the direction of the State Theatre whether they would have been stopped. After Neal called in asking for assistance, Officers Yurkovic and Yanish responded and claimed they found no sign of trouble. Officer Yanish said, "When we were leaving, I saw a group of 20 to 25 people coming down Remsen Avenue. I had no reason to stop. The violence hadn't started yet." Mind you, this is after a call for assistance from an 11-year veteran and several frantic calls from residents.
   Why did Captain Curran instruct his patrols to leave the area? What was the game plan? Are these questions now left up to the interested to conjure up their own answers? Or will these questions be answered by the appropriate people to the satisfaction of the citizens? Are we to be left with the suspicions that because they were African-Americans in an African-American neighborhood, the game plan was to let whatever would happen, happen?
   I read we had prominent politicians in the area and I understand the perceoved concept that inside the general population there are certain people whose lives are considered more valuable than others. I just don't buy that concept, and I don't expect the law enforcement department, which is paid for by the taxpayers to protect all the citizenry, to behave that way. The big concern that night seems to have been that traffic from the State Theatre would travel directly into the confrontation.
   There is another question. Does the fact that Officer Neal has had political ambition in the past, and may have in the future, put him in jeopardy of not receiving the protection he, as well as anyone else, has the rights to expect? Why was Neal abandoned? How could law enforcement officers stand by and watch a confrontation from a block away and do nothing? Does Neal have the right to participate as a citizen in his community when he is off duty?
   There also is the question of the two officers who were supposed to have taken kids from one side of town to the other for the purposes of fighting each other. Is that being investigated? Will it receive as much publicity as the investigation of Neal? Will the public be informed of who the officers in question are? Will Chief Conway be made aware of this investigation?
   I feel comfortable in stating Officer Neal did not bring discredit upon the department. If discredit is to be found, Chief Conway need only look at all the particulars surrounding that night to determine who brought discredit upon whom.
   To claim that Officer Neal fostered ill-will between the two groups is utterly ridiculous. Neal has worked for many years with the young people in this town and for that he ought to be commended.  - Goldie Thomas, New Brunswick

by Goldie Thomas

go back