N.J. mall fight video stokes anger after cops cuff Black teen, seat white teen on couch 

Police officers pen the Black teen, identified in a report as Z'Kye, to the ground on his stomach, with one officer’s knee appearing to be in his back.

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A new viral video that many are describing as clear evidence of police bias and racism is circulating and sparking outrage across social media channels. 

Police in Bridgewater, New Jersey, responded to two teenagers whose verbal altercation turned physical, according to a NBC News report. In the video, which appears to be captured on a cellphone, the officers run onto the scene and pull the teenagers apart.

When they arrive, the white teenager — who is larger and older, according to NBC News — is sitting on top of the Black teen pummeling him with punches. 

“We recognize that this video has made members of our community upset and are calling for an internal affairs investigation,” the police department said in a statement. (Credit: Screenshot/@AttorneyCrump/Twitter)

However, the officers pen the Black teen, who is identified in the report as 14-year-old Z’Kye, to the ground on his stomach with one officer’s knee appearing to be in his back. A second officer puts her knee near the back of his head as they handcuff him. 

The white teen is left alone watching the scene and is later gently sat down on a couch nearby. 

Z’Kye told NBC News, “I was, like, calm, because I knew not to be scared. Just stay calm and not move and do what they tell me to do.” 

His mother, Eboné, said, “It doesn’t take two cops to hold a 14-year-old boy down who’s not resisting, while the other boy is just kind of going free and still going off on my son. It just doesn’t make sense.” 

Both teens have been banned from the mall, Bridgewater Commons, for three years. 

In a statement, the police department wrote that they are aware that the video is circulating on social media. 

“We recognize that this video has made members of our community upset and are calling for an internal affairs investigation. The officers were able to respond quickly to this incident and stop it from escalating because of a tip we received from the community. We have requested that the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office assist us in this matter and are requesting patience as we strictly adhere to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Internal Affairs Directive.”

“We appreciate the videos that we have already received from community members and ask that anyone who has a video of this incident please email it to tips@bridgewaterpd.com. The men and women of the Bridgewater Township Police Department are thankful for our community partners and look forward to continuing to build our positive relationships.” 

However, the apology has not placated many on social media. “The New Jersey Bridgewater Mall Fight is the clearest example of how police actively use race as a shorthand for who they perceive as a threat,” one user wrote.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy also commented on Twitter: “Although an investigation is still gathering the facts about this incident, I’m deeply disturbed by what appears to be racially disparate treatment in this video. We’re committed to increasing trust between law enforcement and the people they serve.”

A local NAACP chapter has called on Murphy to intervene and see that both officers are fired, writing, “The @naacp NJ State Conference calls for these @bridgewaterpd officers to be immediately removed from the police force pending an investigation,” the organization said in a tweet. “The time for the #nj Governor and Attorney General to put a stop to this type of behavior by the police is NOW.”

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