Activist’s Removal From Statehouse is Pattern to Silence Opposition, Advocates Claim

Burlington County Times' David Levinsky Reports

Leaders from several advocacy groups held a news conference Friday where they both condemned Sue Altman’s removal and also expressed concerns about how other advocates have been treated at the Statehouse, particularly when they oppose leaders on controversial issues or legislation.

TRENTON — Camden activist Sue Altman’s ejection from a Senate committee hearing room on Monday captured national attention, but fellow advocates and activists claim it’s far from the only example of state legislators using what they describe as “un-democratic” tactics to silence or limit public participation and opposition.

Leaders from several advocacy groups, including New Jersey Citizen Action, New Jersey Policy Perspective, Environment New Jersey, Clean Water Action, League of Women Voters and the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, held a news conference Friday where they condemned Altman’s removal and also expressed concerns about how others have been treated at the Statehouse, particularly when they oppose leaders on controversial issues or legislation.

The groups also released a letter they sent to legislative leaders that made many of the same points.

“The shocking, forcible removal of New Jersey Working Families Alliance Executive Director Sue Altman this week is the latest — and most egregious — example of the many attempts to silence and sideline our voices, especially voices of dissent,” the letter said.

Altman was removed by New Jersey State Police troopers during a hearing of a special Senate committee assigned the task of examining the state’s now expired tax incentive programs administered by the state Economic Development Authority.

The hearing featured testimony from influential political boss George Norcross III, and drew both supporters and opponents of the tax incentives.

Altman, a Camden resident, has been among the most vocal critic of both the incentives and the influence Norcross appears to have with many members of the Legislature.

 

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