Democratic Councilman Patrick Simon, the lone member of the governing body to not sign a join statement about the investigation into the arrest of Princeton University Professor Imani Perry, said he did not sign the statement for two reasons.
“The first is that I was worried that the statement was too long, in effect implicitly lending credence to the criticisms leveled against the Princeton Police Department even as we sought to refute them, and as a result, that it might rekindle discussion in the press and social media, fanning the flames of a fire we’ve been trying to put out,” Simon said.
Simon said the second reason he did not sign is that he disagrees with the point in the third paragraph of the statement that characterizes the event as raising legitimate questions about the use of court warrants.
“In my view that paragraph lends legitimacy to a false narrative of this event, and I’m not in any hurry to climb on that bandwagon,” he said. “This was a routine traffic stop, which became a warrant arrest due to the past negligence of the individual involved, and it was subsequently blown out of proportion by that individual and others.”
Simon said there is a valid national debate on the use of court warrants for petty offenses, and acknowledged that there is a disproportionate impact of the practice on people of color, but that the facts of the Perry case are sufficiently skewed that they don’t constructively inform the debate.
“Therefore, I disagree with my colleagues’ decision to use this incident to demand a seat at the table for that discussion at the state level. Nor do I think we are entitled to any special consideration simply because this event happened here,” Simon said.
“I would have preferred a much shorter statement commending the officers for their professionalism, and expressing appreciation for the way Chief Sutter and the entire department responded with sensitivity and dignity to the unjustified attacks in the press and social media,” he said. “That would have been sufficient.”