MATAWAN - Former Matawan Police Chief James Alston broke his silence for the first time since he was suspended from the force a year and a half ago.

Alston, the first African-American police chief of Matawan, says he was forced to turn in his weapons and was slapped with disciplinary charges as a result of racial discrimination.

He says the borough trumped up charges against him to take away his leadership in what he calls an all-white police department.

The former chief is accused of showing up drunk to a scene a year and a half ago on Orchard Street and mistreating the crowd. His attorney says the star witness against his client is a convicted felon that Alston had previously arrested.

Borough officials will only say that they demoted Alston to lieutenant and suspended him for 10 days without pay this week following the recommendations of a hearing officer.