Dem Congressional Hopeful Sue Altman Led Group That Called To 'Imagine a Society Without Police'

With Altman on its board, South Jersey Women for Progressive Change also held 'white fragility' workshops

(Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Green New Deal Network)
May 22, 2024

New Jersey Democratic congressional candidate Sue Altman helped lead a left-wing activist group that called to "imagine a society without police," promoted "black-only spaces," and held workshops about "white fragility," the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

Altman served on the leadership board for South Jersey Women for Progressive Change (SJWPC) from 2018 until at least February 2020, including as co-chair of the political engagement committee. The group describes itself as an "8,000-member action network for intersectional grassroots advocacy and activism, open to all who identify as female or were assigned female at birth."

While Altman has faced scrutiny for her tenure as the state director for the New Jersey Working Families Party, her leadership position with SJWPC so far has flown under the media radar. A Free Beacon review of SJWPC’s publications shows the group embraced far-left positions on a variety of cultural issues.

In addition to its bimonthly general meetings, SJWPC also held several private study groups that workshopped various social issues including "racial justice," the "Asian model minority myth," "white fragility," "cultural appropriation," and "alternatives to the police." The group held an August 2018 study group on "policing" that posed the questions "Can you imagine a society without police?" and asked whether police actions improve situations or "make it worse?"

Primary source materials for the workshop participants included "A concise history of the connection between policing and slavery," an essay describing "alternatives to the police," and a now deleted blog post titled "What To Do Instead of Calling the Police" that offered an "introduction into alternatives to the police."

Altman’s group’s official 2018 platform was in favor of "divesting in [sic] prisons," "debt-free college" as an option for "all students," "protect[ing] our residents from deportation," and access to health care "regardless ... of ability to pay." The group also opposed all fracking in New Jersey.

SJWPC also tackled "white privilege and white fragility" in a September 2018 study group titled "But I’m Not Racist: White Supremacy in Activist Spaces." This study group asked participants to consider how to "overcome" their own privilege and included an article titled "Black-Only Spaces Harm No One—So Why Are White People So Upset?" by Danny Cardwell. This article defended excluding white people from "black-only" spaces, claiming white people are "in no way negatively impacted."

"The desire to decenter whiteness from discussions affecting people of color isn’t the same as government policies designed to limit access to opportunity. White America is in no way negatively impacted by Black-only spaces," Cardwell wrote. "Contrary to popular belief, Black-only spaces aren’t a form of segregation."

Another reading included was a blog post titled "Hey people with privilege, you need to be OK with making mistakes and being called out," which provided advice to those looking to "fight inequity." The author argued that being "called out" on politically incorrect language is part of what someone "signed up for" when they have "privilege."

"And a big part of this involves white colleagues, cisgender men, able-bodied people, and others with systemic privilege reflecting on their privilege and accepting uncomfortable feedback, sometimes publicly," the blog author wrote. "If you are committed to fighting for social justice, you will make mistakes and be called out too. This is what we signed up for."

The Asian "model minority myth" study group lamented the idea that Asian Americans are less likely to live in poverty than other minority groups due to their focus on "education and hard work." The April 2017 National Public Radio article assigned to the study group participants argued this "model minority myth" created a "racial wedge" between Asian and black Americans and did not take anti-black "racism" into account enough.

"Since the end of World War II, many white people have used Asian-Americans and their perceived collective success as a racial wedge. The effect? Minimizing the role racism plays in the persistent struggles of other racial/ethnic minority groups—especially black Americans," Kat Chow, the article’s author wrote.

Other "anti-racism reading" SJWPC recommended included "Guidelines for Being Strong White Allies" by Paul Kivel and "A Few Pointers for Protesting While White" by Tucker FitzGerald.

Rep. Andy Kim (D., N.J.) posed for a photo alongside Altman and other SJWPC members, according to the website’s "Our People" page. Kim is now the frontrunner in New Jersey’s Senate race after Sen. Bob Menendez (D.), who is battling bribery charges, dropped out of the Democratic nomination process. Kim endorsed Altman’s campaign in April.

Altman’s campaign manager Rob West told the Free Beacon Altman does not support defunding the police now, but declined to comment on her previous involvement in SJWPC’s work to reimagine policing.

"I do not support defunding the police. Public safety is an incredibly important issue—I welcome the opportunity to discuss it with Tom Kean Jr. whenever he’s ready to come out of hiding and agree to a debate," Altman said in a statement to the Free Beacon.

Since announcing her bid to unseat Rep. Thomas Kean Jr. (R., N.J.) in one of the most hotly contested 2024 House races, Altman has struck a conciliatory pose towards law enforcement. To commemorate police week last week, she wrote a statement thanking officers for their "courage and dedication" to keeping her community safe. The support, however, came after Altman, who served as the state director of the progressive New Jersey Working Families Party, called for fewer police.

"As we commemorate Police Week, I want to thank our law enforcement officers who serve with courage and dedication every day," Altman said.

"I promise to work with our police to ensure they have the resources they need to keep our communities safe."

In 2017, Altman said a "reducing of policing" would be "positive ... for society."

Altman in 2022 voiced her opposition to a state bill that would have provided more funding for police officers in cities with high crime rates.

"Super problematic incentive structure alert! This bill gives MORE cops to cities where MORE ARRESTS are made. Think about that for 2 seconds." Altman wrote. "Feels like we've seen this movie before and it ends poorly."