Civil rights leaders rally behind NJ teen in viral Bridgewater mall fight video

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Thursday, March 3, 2022
Civil rights leaders rally behind NJ teen in viral mall fight video
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Civil rights leaders rallied behind a teen from New Jersey who they say was the victim of racial bias during a fight at the Bridgewater Commons Mall. Eyewitness News reporter Toni

BRIDGEWATER, New Jersey (WABC) -- Civil rights leaders rallied Wednesday behind a teenager from New Jersey who they say was the victim of racial bias and excessive police force during a fight at a mall that went viral.

Attorney Ben Crump was joined by members of the National Action Network as they called for justice for 14-year-old Z'Kye Husain, and a federal lawsuit may be in the works.

"I feel like I shouldn't be lucky that I wasn't hurt or killed by people who that are promised to protect us," Husain said. "We shouldn't be made to feel inferior by the cops."

The 8th grader's arrest was caught on video after a fight at the Bridgewater Commons Mall, and police can be seen with their knees on his back as he's handcuffed, all while the other teenager involved -- who is Latino and has a lighter complexion -- is put on a couch nearby to sit and watch.

RELATED | Bridgewater community gathers outside of police department, demanding officers disciplined

"The police, in a split second, saw a white kid on top of a Black kid having an altercation and made a determination that the white kid was presumed innocent and the Black kid was presumed guilty," Crump said. "And then they did what we believe police often do with young people of color. They exerted excessive force."

The second teen was never handcuffed.

"You have to do something about this bias policing," Crump said. "You have to do something based on what we saw on that video. If that is what those officers call good policing, then those officers should be terminated immediately."

Police have launched an Internal Affairs investigation, but there are calls for the officers to face disciplinary action.

"It's bigger than us, it's bigger than my son," mom Ebone Husain said. "He's the face of all the people who couldn't speak for themselves."

A large and diverse crowd came to out to support the family, including many locals who said enough is enough.

"It's up to us, as white people, to dismantle white supremacy," an area resident named Nicole said. "The whole system is based on white supremacy."

Z'Kye's aunt, Enrie Simms, says he was standing up to a high school bully who was harassing his 7th grade friend.

"He did exactly what we all taught him to do, and he was met with not one but two knees in his back while the aggressor towered over him," Simms said.

RELATED | NAACP calls for officers in viral NJ mall fight video to be disciplined

The video shows the older teenager point his finger in Husain's face. Husain pushes his hand away, the other teen shoves Husain, and they begin to fight.

The other teen tackles Husain, punching him several times before the two uniformed officers arrive.

The Somerset County Prosecutor's Office is also involved in the investigation.


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