Rev. Phillip Gilmore Praises Newark's Police Force
Reverend Phillip Gilmore talks about the challenging situations his father faced as a police officer in 1960s, and gives insight as to why Newark’s police force is better than other areas such as Baltimore and Ferguson.
"We are now joined by Reverend Phillip Gilmore, the pastor at St. John's Community Baptist Church on Bergen Street in Newark. Good to see you, Reverend. Thank you. It's good to be here. We are here in Newark, New Jersey, at the North Ward Center. You are here for a very important conversation. We thank you for joining us. "Building Trust: Race, Police, and the Community." Thank you for joining us. You're welcome. Thanks for inviting me. Why does this issue, the challenges that continue to go on, the struggle between police and minority community concern you so deeply? Well, one is because we're just so ingrained in the community. Newark and the South Ward area is where I grew up. It's where I've cut my teeth. My dad was a police officer for 25 years. He was one of the first African-Americans on the police force. So, I actually feel as if I'm in a unique position to be able to bridge the gap between the police relations and the community relations, because I connect so well with both of them. Your dad was on the force during the 1967 rebellion? Yes. Some call it a riot. Either way, this city was torn apart, and it was over, in many ways, the issue of how some people perceived a largely white police force treated an African-American man, John Smith, a cabdriver, while in police custody. The city was torn apart. You were a young boy, I believe, only 4 or 5 years old. Correct. What is your sense of the history of the relationship between the police department in this city and the minority community? Well, look. I have seen it increase over the years, and I've seen the inside of it. For instance, my dad would tell me stories. When he first got on the police force, being one of the first African-Americans, he would be in the police station, and the sergeant would come in and say, "Gilmore, I need you to go take a walk." And he would say, "Why?" And he'd say, "Because the officers want to have lunch now, and they don't want to eat while you're around." And so, he had to endure the racism within the police department. They would often come to him and say to him, when they would arrest an African-American, "Gilmore, get out of here." And he would refuse to leave the station because he understood that it was their intention to inflict bodily harm on someone, and he was there to protect, even those who are arrested. And over the years, with him having that type of temperament, he helped to change a lot of perspectives of guys on the police force..."