"We have a Jim Crow system that carries forward": New Jersey gubernatorial candidate speaks out about systemic racism in the U.S.

A retired firefighter and social activist running for N.J. governor says there's a big problem with race in the US

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published May 5, 2017 5:38PM (EDT)


The American prison system incarcerates racial minorities at disproportionate rates and forces them to work.

Sound a lot like slavery? Bill Brennan, a retired firefighter and social activist who is running for governor of New Jersey, definitely thinks so.

"We have a Jim Crow system that carries forward," Brennan said during an event in New Jersey. "We can connect today's incarceration nation directly back to slavery. It is exactly the reason they're doing it. We had lease labor after Reconstruction, and what was that? Put black people in jail, make them work, lease them out to their former owners."

"And what are we doing today? We have the Corrections Corporation of America making money on our misery. And this has got to stop!" he added. After making it clear that he would "tell the truth" about this issue throughout his gubernatorial campaign, Brennan went on to proclaim that "our nation was built upon two things: The genocide of Native Americans and the enslavement of African Americans."

Finally, after praising the protesters at Standing Rock, Brennan vowed that "if I can not get the legislation to bend to the will of my needs as a governor who wants to free the people of this state, then I will use the power of my office to pardon every single non-violent...!"

The rest of his statement was garbled in the audio, but it didn't matter. Brennan had the crowd rallying behind him with an enthusiasm rarely seen in gubernatorial primaries.



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By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012, was a guest on Fox Business in 2019, repeatedly warned of Trump's impending refusal to concede during the 2020 election, spoke at the Commonwealth Club of California in 2021, was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022 and appeared on NPR in 2023. His diverse interests are reflected in his interviews including: President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (1997-2001), director Jason Reitman ("The Front Runner"), inventor Ernő Rubik, comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, voice actor Rob Paulsen ("Animaniacs"), mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, World War II historian Joshua Levine (consultant to "Dunkirk"), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (2013-present), dog cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), comedian and writer Larry Charles ("Seinfeld"), seismologist John Vidale, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), Senator Martin Heinrich (2013-present), Egyptologist Richard Parkinson, Rep. Eric Swalwell (2013-present), Fox News host Tucker Carlson, actor R. J. Mitte ("Breaking Bad"), theoretical physicist Avi Loeb, biologist and genomics entrepreneur William Haseltine, comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2"), linguistics consultant Paul Frommer ("Avatar"), Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (2007-2015), computer engineer and Internet co-inventor Leonard Kleinrock and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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