Several New Jersey lawmakers are pushing a plan to stop the surge of violence taking place in urban areas.

State Sen. Ron Rice (c.) with Assembly members Cleopatra Tucker and Ralph Caputo
State Sen. Ron Rice (c.) with Assembly members Cleopatra Tucker and Ralph Caputo (David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ)

State Sen. Ron Rice (D-Newark), Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Belleville) and Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker (D-Newark) have introduced a measure that calls for the creation of a commission to study the sources and causes of urban violence, and recommend solutions to the governor and the legislature.

"The fear now is that these cities are going to blow up when the weather gets warm," said Rice during a Monday news conference at the Statehouse. "We can feel it, particularly cities like Newark, and if Newark blows, then you're going to have maybe not New Brunswick as quickly as you would have Camden, Atlantic City and some of the others."

Rice backed up these fears with key statistics.

"More people are dying in New Jersey on a daily basis than they are on a daily basis in any combat zone our troops are in right now," Rice said. "We can't have little black boys and little black girls and immigrants or even whites, which is not that many in our urban cities, walking down the streets catching stray bullets."

Assemblyman Caputo said the problem has spiraled out of control, and that if certain issues had been previously addressed, "we wouldn't have the kids walking around with guns like cowboys and Indians.

"We have kids in the city of Newark that are riding on bicycles, guns on their hips," Caputo said. "There is no hope, no future and drugs have become part of the economy; something drastic has to happen."

Assemblywoman Tucker agreed, stressing violent crime in any form is senseless, especially when it takes the lives of young children.

"We have to be active as a community, we have to be active as a state and in our state budget so we can put more money into programs that fund education, dropout prevention," Tucker said. "We have to knock on doors and tell our young men and women, yes, there is a better way, we have programs, we have job training."

Sen. Rice said, if funding isn't funneled to the cities to help address the problem, then lawmakers should not approve a new state budget in the coming months.

"We should just hold this state down like we did for housing," Rice said, "until such time we know dollars are starting to go directly into the budget, directed toward helping us with this issue."

More From WPG Talk Radio 95.5 FM