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The Boss

By David Dayton McKean
This Web version, edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

Persistent political opponents of the regime, such as Jefferson Burkitt and James Cullom, have been beaten up by the Jersey City police with such regularity that a new beating is no longer news in the Jersey City press; but a reader who is interested in police brutality may trace their stories through the index of the metropolitan newspapers since 1929. On one occasion Burkitt got off a bus on which he had come to address a meeting. He was seized by police, taken into the basement of the courthouse, and beaten so thoroughly that he had to be held up in court the next day when Judge Leo Sullivan sentenced him to ninety days in jail for using abusive language to a policeman Once after Cullom was beaten the police said that he had fallen downstairs and hurt his face. (New York World, April 29 and May 1, 1929.) Burkitt was a particularly dangerous opponent of the organization because many of his charges were discovered to be true by the investigation of the Case Committee.

The Civil Liberties Committee of the Junior Bar Conference of the American Bar Association brought out in their report for 1938 the manner in which Jersey City police handle strikers and other persons they do not like:

On December 21, 1936, two striking seamen at Pier No. 9 in Jersey City were thrown to the ground, kicked, and beaten by Jersey City policemen. Reverend Jay T. Wright, of the New Jersey Civil Liberties Union, and George Pfaus, a newspaper man, both acting as observers a block away, were assaulted. ... Other instances of beatings and intimidations of seamen on strike and their sympathizers are too numerous to set forth here. Many persons not members of the Seamen's Union have signed affidavits showing violence and brutality used not only against strikers but against representatives of civil rights groups, ministers, educators, newspapermen, photographers, writers, and other observers.


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