LeRoy J. Jones Jr.
LeRoy J. Jones Jr. (born September 5, 1957) is an American Democratic Party politician, who served four terms in the New Jersey General Assembly, where he represented the 27th Legislative District. He is currently a partner at 1868 Public Affairs and a political operative serving as the Democratic Party chairman for both East Orange and Essex County, New Jersey.
Jones who served two terms on the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders from 1988 to 1993. and four-terms in the New Jersey General Assembly, where he represented the 27th Legislative District from 1994 to 2000. As a member of the New Jersey General Assembly, Jones served on the Solid and Hazardous Waste Committee and was Deputy Minority Leader from 1996 to 1998. He was first elected in 1993 along with Nia Gill, and the pair won re-election in 1995, 1997 and 1999.
Saying that box cutters had become "the weapon of choice" for gang members, Jones proposed legislation in the Assembly in 1995 that would ban the sale of box cutters to those under 18 years old, with a fine of up to $7,000 and 18 months in jail imposed on those violating the ban. In 1998, Jones proposed legislation that would require children up to the age of 14 to wear ski helmets and would require ski areas to make them available for use by all underage skiers.
After a highly publicized incident involving four minority men along the New Jersey Turnpike in April 1998, and the publication in January 1999 of State Police data which, for the first time, provided solid and reliable evidence supporting the complaints of minority motorists who were being illegally targeted by the State Police. On May 18, 1998, Assemblyman LeRoy J. Jones Jr. and Senator Shirley Turner, requested Senate President Donald DiFrancesco and Assembly Speaker Jack Collins to impanel a bicameral legislative task force to review the issue of racial profiling. Their request was denied. On May 28, 1998 Assemblyman Jones and Senator Turner introduced legislation to create a joint legislative task force to hold public hearings to investigate racial profiling and minority employment discrimination within the State Police. Jones said, "If you know something is wrong . . . you are duty bound to challenge that procedure, particularly when you know it is wrong," he said.
In August 1999, LeRoy Jones Jr. was one of fifteen Assembly members and five state senators who made up the "New Jersey Legislative Black and Latino Caucus". On April 13, 20 and 27, 1999, the Caucus held regional public hearings - in Trenton, Newark and Blackwood and in August 1999 produce a report titled, "A Report on Discriminatory Practices Within the New Jersey State Police".
In preparation for the hearings, the Caucus established a toll-free telephone number to enable the public to report incidents of abuse of power by the State Police. Hundreds of telephone calls were received from persons who were either victims of, or witnesses to, racial profiling.
From the outset, the Caucus emphasized that it believed the great majority of New Jersey troopers are hardworking, law-abiding professionals who discharge their duties with fairness and dedication. The Caucus further emphasized that its primary objectives were to identify any institutional racism and to propose institutional reform. The principal purpose of the hearings was to place a "human face" on the illegal and degrading practice of racial profiling by the New Jersey State Police. A second purpose was to determine the nature and scope of any discriminatory employment policies, practices and procedures within the New Jersey State Police.
When the Caucus decided to conduct its own hearings on these enormously important issues, the presiding officers refused to authorize the use of certain legislative resources. In a newspaper interview published on February 28, 1999, the then State Police Superintendent Colonel Carl Williams, provided an unprecedented insight into the institutional mindset and culture of the State Police regarding racial stereotypes and criminal behavior. Superintendent Williams stated: “Today with this drug problem, the drug problem is cocaine or marijuana. It is most likely 2 a minority group that’s involved with that . . . If you are looking at heroin and stuff like that, your involvement there is more or less Jamaicans.” The reaction to the article was swift and angry. A coalition of black state legislators, ministers and civil rights advocates gathered at the East Orange offices of Assemblyman Leroy D. Jones, an Essex County Democrat, and denounced Colonel Williams, calling for his resignation hours before it was announced. Jones said, ''His views are dastardly, his thoughts are ill and sickened, and he's unfit to hold such a critical, important office,'' Mr. Jones said. ''He's a racist of the worst kind, because he doesn't even know it.''
Colonel Williams' statements are not supported by statistical evidence. For example, the 1997 Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, published jointly by the United States Justice Department and the State University at Albany, New York, documented that in 1996 Blacks made up only 38.4 percent of all drug arrests nationwide.
On March 3, 1999, members of the Black and Latino Caucus met with President Bill Clinton. The Caucus urged President Clinton to expedite the investigation the Justice Department launched in December 1996 into racial profiling and employment practices by the New Jersey State Police. On March 9, 1999, members of the Caucus met in Washington, D.C. with United States Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder and, with the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey, again urged the Justice Department to expedite its investigation. The meeting with the Justice Department was extremely positive. It was against this compelling backdrop that the Caucus scheduled the three regional hearings. Prior to the first hearing, the Caucus extended invitations to Attorney General Peter G. Verniero, to Acting Superintendent of State Police, Michael Fedorko, and to former Superintendent Carl Williams. Each declined the invitation. However, prior to the third hearing on April 27 in Blackwood, the Attorney General's Office advised that Attorney General Verniero would appear and testify. Subsequently, though, the Attorney General's Office advised that it had made a mistake and that the Attorney General would not testify.
Redistricting following the 2000 United States Census put both Gill and Jones in the 34th Legislative District. Jones ran in 2001 for mayor of East Orange, and lost. In the 2003 primaries for the district's seat in the New Jersey Senate, Jones was given the party line opposing Gill. Despite outspending Gill in the heavily Democratic district, Gill won with 55% of the vote.
Jones served as the City Administrator of East Orange, New Jersey for seven years, where he was responsible for developing the city's $100 million operating budget. Jones also served in various positions at Public Service Electric and Gas, including Business Development Manager, Director of Workforce Diversity and Public Affairs Manager.
Jones is currently a founding partner of 1868 Public Affairs a full-service government and public affairs consultancy with offices in Trenton, New Jersey.
Jones is the Democratic Chairman of both East Orange and Essex County. In 2002, Jones was elected to serve as the East Orange Democratic Municipal Committee Chairman which is a position he still holds today. In October 2013, Jones was elected as Essex County Democratic Chairman, following the death of Phil Thigpen. Jones served as the Essex County Campaign Director for Governor Jon Corzine's 2009 re-election campaign, where he helped lead Governor Corzine to one the largest Democratic vote pluralities in the history of New Jersey. He also served as Co-Campaign Chairman for Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo.
In June 2015, Jones was charged with misdemeanor simple assault after allegedly punching a poll worker on primary election day in June, in an incident that was recorded on video. Jones stated that he had come down to the polling place to confront the poll worker, who had been in an argument with Jones' wife, who was also there as a poll worker at that location. But Jones had an explanation. 'This man threatened my wife,' Jones said. 'This man assaulted my wife. This man charged at my wife.'"
Jones lives in East Orange with his wife, Jacqueline and their children.
- "Assemblyman LeRoy J. Jones Jr". Archived from the original on February 25, 1998. Retrieved 2017-05-12. , New Jersey Legislature. Accessed June 7, 2010.
- NJ Assembly 27 - History, OurCampaigns.com. Accessed June 7, 2010.
- Van Gelder, Lawrence. "NEW JERSEY DAILY BRIEFING; Ban Is Sought on Box Cutters", The New York Times, September 21, 1995. Accessed June 7, 2010.
- Strunsky, Steven. "IN BRIEF; Skier's Death Renews Interest in Helmet Bill", The New York Times, February 21, 1999. Accessed June 7, 2010.
- Fitzgerald, Barbara. "Reflections on a Glass Ceiling", The New York Times, August 10, 2003. Accessed June 7, 2010.
- Segedin, Andrew. "East Orange's Leroy Jones Jr. chosen as Essex County Democratic Committee Chair", The Montclair Times, November 24, 2013. Accessed November 4, 2015. "Leroy Jones Jr. of East Orange has been selected by members of the Essex County Democratic Committee to serve as their chair.Jones succeeds the late Phil Thigpen of Montclair, who died last month at the age of 87."
- Staff. "N.J. Political Leader Defends Throwing Punches At Legally Blind Poll Worker", WCBS-TV, July 8, 2015. Accessed November 4, 2015. "Leroy Jones, the head of the Essex County Democratic Committee, is seen in the video throwing several punches at Bill Graves, a poll worker.... Graves claimed he did not know what led to the incident, saying, 'If you can answer that, we wouldn't be sitting here.' But Jones had an explanation. 'This man threatened my wife,' Jones said. 'This man assaulted my wife. This man charged at my wife.'"
- Mazzola, Jessica. "Caught on tape: N.J. political leader punches 74-year-old poll worker, defends it, report says", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, July 9, 2015. Accessed November 4, 2015. "According to a CBS News report, LeRoy Jones, the head of the Essex County Democratic Committee, is seen in the video throwing several punches at 74-year-old poll worker Bill Graves.... But, Jones told CBS he was defending his wife, who was also working at the polls. Graves got aggressive with Jones's wife during an argument, and she called her husband, Jones told CBS."