This rally, however, was not an attempt at remembering Moore's life or bringing closure. Instead, it was an underhanded attempt at politicizing what is nothing less than an unprovoked act of brutality that resulted in the death of a beloved young woman.
Rather than letting her rest in peace, those seeking to use her as a martyr have hijacked her name and memory for political causes she likely would not have supported, nor that had anything to do with the circumstances surrounding her murder.
As reported on the front page of the October 13 Newark weekly Local Talk, the rally was organized by the People's Organization for Progress (POP), a group which, according to its constitution, “shall unify and organize working, poor and progressive people and strive to foster cooperation, self-reliance, and a militant fighting spirit among them.”
In addition to the POP, the rally was also organized by the New Black Panther Party, a group which the left-leaning Southern Poverty Law Center calls “a virulently racist and anti-Semitic organization whose leaders have encouraged violence against whites, Jews, and law enforcement officers.” This is the same organization cited for voter intimidation in the 2008 presidential elections. Additionally, it has been described by the Anti-Defamation League as “promoting conspiracy theories about Jewish involvement in the September 11th attacks,” and leaves behind a record of advocacy for armed resistance against police.
In addition, the POP shares the New Black Panther Party’s commitment to Marxist-oriented politics and support for hate-filled anti-Semitic and anti-law enforcement rhetoric.
Interestingly, the POP, in addition to such activities as campaigning against the flying of the Confederate battle flag, has also held forums in support of Amiri Baraka, aka Leroi Jones, the former Poet Laureate of New Jersey, under the banner of “protecting free speech.”
Baraka, known for his poetry condemning free-market capitalism, attacking Jews, and expressing his desire to “commit the violence required to 'establish a Black World,’” according to Werner Sollors' study Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones: The Quest for a “Populist Modernism,” was honored by the POP on July 3, 2002, following abolition of the position Poet Laureate by the New Jersey state legislature.
The “free speech” they believe that Baraka — a recipient of The Rockefeller Foundation Award for Drama — was deprived of, is embodied in his poem “Somebody Blew Up America,” which not only prompted the abolition of his position, but also earned the condemnation of groups such as the ADL for his conspiratorial anti-semitic belief that George W. Bush and the Israelis were to blame for the September 11 attacks.
Baraka, who in a 2003 interview identified himself as a Marxist, was later propelled into the position of Poet Laureate of the Newark Public Schools by POP-linked activists. Both Baraka and the POP share a commitment to “strive for a more just and equitable distribution of wealth in our society,” as quoted in the POP publication The Agitator.
Of course, while the POP claims to lament Moore's death, its aims and activities are sympathetic to criminals rather than to crime victims or the police. Indeed, these activists refer to the police as “pigs” and argue that there is a culture of both “institutional racism” and “police brutality” responsible for such crimes.
Rather than lending its support to the police, the POP demands “an end to police brutality, and the establishment of elected civilian review and control boards with subpoena and prosecutorial powers over all police forces at all levels in the U.S.”
Police work has been made nearly impossible in cities such as Newark, which has been described as the “Wild, Wild West of the East.” Police must fear the legal ramifications of protecting innocent citizens against imminent danger.
Ironically, the Newark Anti-Violence Coalition, another group behind this rally, urges its members to petition Newark City Hall to reduce the number of police patrolling the streets; in the words of coalition member Munirah Bomani: “Less Pigs will force us to protect our own communities. We need more community control of our community.”
These radicals simply seek to play both sides of the fiddle. While claiming to stand behind the families of crime victims such as Ms. Moore, they invoke racism and deflect the blame onto police.
This is all in spite of the the fact that within minutes of this massacre, the East Orange Police Department was on the crime scene in large numbers, and Sergeant Andrew DiElmo offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the suspect's capture immediately after the murder.
Even though the assailants, Nicholas Welch and Marcus Bascus, had been arrested and charged with murder, conspiracy, and weapons charges within two days of Moore's death, the POP and Newark Anti-Violence Coalition still preoccupy themselves with activities undermining the efficacy of the EOPD.
Instead of supporting initiatives against crime, the POP supports “the struggle to free Mumia Abu-Jamal,” a convicted cop-killer and Black Panther who murdered Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner in 1983. Abu-Jamal’s sentence was supported by the Fraternal Order of Police and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
It was not racism or a conspiracy of systematic injustice of “the Man” against African Americans that killed Jessica Moore; instead, it was the depravity and cowardice of Welch and Bascus.
Jessica Moore acted courageously as she laid down her life for her friend Nakeisha Vanterpool. Incidentally, Vanterpool's mother is quoted in The New York Post as saying she “never thought her little girl would go away to college and deal with these thugs.”
Vanterpool’s mother would have never thought that her daughter and the deceased would be used as political pawns by those who have continuously supported these “thugs.”
No parent should ever have to deal with the pain of losing a child, nor the added pain of their child's memory being co-opted by groups supporting hate, conspiracy theories, Marxism, and anti-police advocacy. Jessica Moore is not remembered for advocating hate and disunity; she is remembered for bringing people together, and for being “an open book that loved everyone,” according to her friends Nakeisha Vanterpool and Jessica Townsend.
While Moore's aunt says “We chose not to harbor on the act of evil and hatred that manifested itself in this tragedy for it has not and will never dim the light that Jessica cast in this world,” these groups invoke her unblemished memory in a context of violence, darkness, and hate-filled principles which had no place in her worldview.
Jessica Moore's life and death were far removed from such a militant worldview. Her memory has been dishonestly hijacked as a vehicle for advancing such views, in spite of her loving and warm nature. May her memory be a blessing, and may she be remembered for her example of togetherness, friendship, and love.
Seton Hall University student Jessica A. Moore (1991-2010)
Thumbnail photo at top: Dr. Phyllis Moore-Tolliver, mother of Jessica A. Moore, speaks during the prayer service in Jessica Moore's memory at Walsh Gymnasium on the campus of Seton Hall University on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010, in South Orange, N.J. as her husband Orlando Tolliver, left, looks on: AP Images