Steven Young, Leader of Al Sharpton’s Atlantic City NAN Chapter, Sues New Jersey for Arrest at Takeover Hearing

The leader of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network chapter in Atlantic City has sued New Jersey over his arrest while testifying at a state Senate hearing.

Steven Young was handcuffed and taken into custody on March 10 after refusing to end his testimony against a state takeover of the struggling city. Disorderly persons charges were later dropped.

The state seized control in November, taking over Atlantic City’s major decision making power. It also now has the right to seize and sell city assets as part of a plan to stabilize the seaside gambling resort’s teetering finances.

“When it comes to the state taking away our sovereignty and our Constitutional rights, that is very important,” Young said. “I was speaking up against it, and I guess they wanted to make an example of me. You have to step up and fight back against this kind of thing.”

Young was one of many Atlantic City residents who traveled to the capitol to testify against the takeover proposal. After speaking for several minutes, he was asked to wrap up his testimony but declined to do so. Young was then approached by a state trooper and escorted from the hearing room.

In his Jan. 18 lawsuit, Young said the two troopers and the senate official told him he could not return to the hearing room. When he stated his intention to do so anyway, he was handcuffed and driven to a state police office, where he was fingerprinted, photographed and charged with three disorderly conduct offenses, according to his lawsuit.

The charges were later dismissed.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s administration, with support from the Democrat-led state Legislature, instituted the takeover to try to force fiscal austerity and debt reduction upon Atlantic City, whose finances have been devastated by the shrinking of its casino industry. Since 2014, five of the city’s 12 casinos have gone out of business, taking more than 11,000 jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue with them.

Source: AP