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NJ Working Families Director Sue Altman. (Photo: Nikita Biryukov for the New Jersey Globe)

Progressives slam Bob Smith over Altman removal

Activist dragged out of committee hearing by police Monday

By Nikita Biryukov, November 19 2019 11:53 am

Progressive groups slammed Sen. Bob Smith over the forcible removal of New Jersey Working Families director Sue Altman.

“The state troopers who dragged Sue out of that hearing room were acting at the behest of Senator Bob Smith, who was too cowardly to be confronted with a robust public debate,” more than 20 progressive groups and advocates said in a joint statement Tuesday. “The stunt backfired – people all over New Jersey have seen the video and have decried the use of force against Sue.”

State Police dragged Altman out of a Senate Select Committee on Economic Growth Strategies hearing where South Jersey powerbroker George Norcross testified Monday.

Smith, chair of the EGS committee, told officers to remove the “back row” in the packed committee room when some members of the crowd cheered or booed after the first panel of witnesses, which did not include Norcross, finished their testimony.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Smith was referring to the back row of protesters arranged on one side of the room or to protesters lining the back of the room, but Altman was in neither.

The incident largely defined the hearing, giving progressives a rallying cry while highlighting the largely-unchallenged testimony Norcross later gave.

“We refuse to be cowed by George Norcross’ political machine. We refuse to be silenced. We refuse to sit back and watch our legislators – many of whom we helped elect – protect an unelected insurance broker against the interests of the people of New Jersey,” the progressives said. “We demand an immediate apology for the violation of our democracy today.”

Among the groups who slammed Smith Tuesday were NJ 11th for Change, Camden Parent UnionCamden We Choose, the Central Jersey Progressive Democrats, ATNJ Bergen, Westfield 20/20 and NJ7 Forward, among others.

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