Parkland Press

Saturday, March 28, 2020

South Whitehall responds to NAACP travel advisory

Thursday, August 30, 2018 by Debra Palmieri in Local News

South Whitehall Township has issued a statement in reply to the travel advisory for “minorities and persons of color” issued Aug. 29 by the Allentown Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People regarding travel in and to the township.

According to the advisory, posted on the group’s Facebook page, the travel advisory was issued “to warn minorities to be aware of personal safety in interactions with South Whitehall Township’s Police Force,” which the Allentown Branch of the NAACP says “lacks any African American Police Officers.”

The travel advisory, according to the local NAACP branch was issued “in light of the shooting of Joseph Santos and racial profiling claims of Benjamin Slater ...”

Slater was allegedly removed from Dorney Park and cited by a South Whitehall police officer.

Third Vice President of the Allentown Branch of the NAACP Tony Philips and Secretary Barbara Redmond also issued a statement, which in part states: “The NAACP Branch is also aware of complaints of white police officers following and harassing citizens of color including African Americans.”

South Whitehall Township Manager Renee Bickel in the Aug. 30 reply to the travel advisory stated:

“The South Whitehall Township Police Department does not discriminate against minorities, either in its hiring practices or in the conduct of its day-to-day operations.

“The news release/travel advisory issued by the Allentown Branch of the NAACP warning minorities and persons of color traveling in and to South Whitehall is inaccurate and unwarranted, and improperly denigrates the men and women of the police department who have dedicated their lives to serving and protecting our community.

“The death of Mr. Joseph Santos on July 28, 2018, continues to be the subject of an ongoing internal investigation.

“However, at this time, the township has no evidence to suggest that racial motivation played any role whatsoever in Officer Jonathan Roselle’s actions.

“During a press conference held on Aug. 7, Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin also indicated that the criminal investigation yielded no evidence of racial bias.

“In addition, the township is not aware of complaints about “officers following and harassing citizens of color” as claimed by the NAACP.