“I am not focusing on the negatives”, Mayor Adrian Mapp told a radio station only hours after a large contingent of residents rallied against violence in Plainfield. “There are murders in every city in New Jersey,” he rationalized.
Mapp’s absence from the rally was noted by most who spoke. “You all elected him,” a couple of onlookers yelled. “That’s not my mayor,” said another.
The Mayor sent no representative on his behalf.In the same interview, Mayor Mapp said people only seem to focus on the negatives when it comes to Plainfield, as opposed to Clark or Cranford.
He has a point – they rarely tell the good stories happening in our city. Frustrations with Plainfield’s negative media coverage is one of the reasons I maintain this blog.
But the truth is, murder rarely takes place in Cranford and Clark, and despite their greater frequency in Plainfield, we cannot overlook young people being killed in our streets.
In the words of Reverend Tracey Brown during last week’s press conference announcing the rally ,”We have to help young people understand that their lives matter.”
We all know Plainfield is a great city. Accentuating our city’s positives does not mean pretending our issues aren’t there. You’d think a Mayor as image-conscious as Mr. Mapp would understand the importance of solidarity with all residents, especially in times of crisis.
But Mayor Mapp has made a political determination. The Fourth Ward in particular does not matter to him. There are less wealthy donors in that part of town, and voter turnout is historically lower.
It’s not just Mapp himself. The Mayor’s City Council candidates didn’t even bother to show up for last month’s NAACP-Sponsored forum in the Fourth Ward. Alma Blanco and Reverend Tracey Brown were left with no one to debate.Mapp did show up to an April Anti-Trump rally at Netherwood Train Station, an event promoted by wealthy campaign contributor Bobby Gregory. He’s shown up with tax-abated developers all around our city for ribbon cuttings and photo ops. Mayor Mapp makes many local political appearances, his portrait proudly displayed on the flyers for any city-sponsored event. You may have even seen the Mayor’s billboard-trucks riding around Plainfield reminding folks to vote – and for whom to vote. But when over seventy residents came together in Plainfield’s largest anti-violence demonstration in at least six years, he was no where to be found.
Not to say one march, or two marches, will change anything. All sorts of policy from City Hall, and from our state and nation’s capitol, will have to address the violence and its root causes. The need for jobs, living wages, gun control, and quality education involve players far beyond this small city of 50,000.
Residents will have to take a stand as well – politically and on the ground. A Community Summit has been penciled in for Thursday, June 23rd, at a location to be announced. Demonstrators have vowed to continue with similar efforts.
One of those demonstrators, Salaam Ismail of the National United Youth Council, said last week that we are all implicated in the crisis of violence in our communities. He’s absolutely right. No one in our city can take credit for the good without addressing the bad.
We can’t afford to put on rose-colored glasses, focusing on the positives while comparing ourselves to Clark and Cranford. Our Mayor, for one, should know this.