Edison councilwoman denies hate posts on Facebook: I was ‘hacked’
EDISON — The Township Council president has been accused of sharing two inflammatory posts on Facebook — one anti-Semitic in nature and another that suggested Chinese people were to blame for the pandemic. In response, Joyce Ship-Freeman said her page was "hacked" and that she is being attacked for "purely political" reasons.
"I am a proud African American woman who rose above it all and will not let men bully me when they don’t get their way. Shame on them for hating a woman who happens to be African American and a senior citizen," Ship-Freeman, a Democrat, said Wednesday evening in an email to New Jersey 101.5 News.
In a written statement Tuesday, the Simon Wiesenthal Center shared two screenshots that appear to show the posts on a personal Facebook page of Joyce Ship-Freeman.
One of the posts incorrectly described a "Saint Corona" as a patron saint of plagues and infectious diseases. It went on to purportedly draw a connection to "Israel" becoming a nation in a disparaging manner.
The second post appeared to point to the origin of the novel coronavirus in China as a motivation for not eating Chinese food.
The SWC called for a "clear public apology" from Ship-Freeman.
"Whatever the circumstances of how they got on her page, why has it taken her one month to remove the incendiary tropes about Jews and Israel?" the organization said.
Simon Wiesenthal Center Eastern Director Michael Cohen also said in an email that the posts were finally taken down by Ship-Freeman “only when publicly called out, and secondly, that her initial public reaction was not to condemn the anti- Semitic and anti-Chinese messages but rather to prioritize her personal political image."
The Center included with their statement screenshots of both posts under scrutiny, as seen below.
Some township residents also claimed that Ship-Freeman's page had been "hacked," including Democratic political activist De Amorin Anthony, who posted on his own Facebook page that the councilwoman "has no history of any of this stuff & doesn’t conform or bend to these groups behind the black curtain, so she is being labeled a racist & anti Semite."
Ship-Freeman spoke on her record of inclusiveness, writing in the same response, "I have impeccable character and have lead many Human Relations Commissions. I am in the process of rebuilding our Human Rights Commission which has been absent for nine years."
Council Vice President Sam Joshi used his own Facebook page to say he was "dismayed by anti-Semitic and anti-Chinese" postings on the page of his colleague.
Joshi echoed the language of the SWC in referring to the offensive posts.
"Whatever the circumstances of how they got there, I urge the President to join with me to unequivocally denounce all bigotry that slanders and endangers our Jewish, Asian-American and African-American neighbors during this crisis," he wrote.
Without identifying whom she is referring to, the councilwoman said "I was told that if I didn’t stick to their corrupt politics they would ruin me."
Ship-Freeman said she is deeply hurt that someone would use race to try to gain political power. She noted that she grew up during the Civil Rights Movement era.
"My grandmother escaped the lynchings in the south by moving to Edison," she said.
"This is not a game. Someone should take them to the Lynching Museum in Tennessee to at least let them gain some knowledge of race in America."
According to religious writings, there was a "Saint Corona," but the figure's connections to plague and epidemics are unclear.
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