NORTH BRUNSWICK — Gov. Phil Murphy was booed during a town hall meeting Thursday night when he connected violence to "right-wing behavior."

Toward the end of the session, Murphy paraphrased a lengthy question submitted by a member of the audience about security in buildings of worship, schools and community centers.

"Sadly, it's a sign of the times, the rise of right-wing behavior — the rise of anti-Semitic behavior, in particular and specific — is jaw-dropping. Any by the way, not just in New Jersey but in America," Murphy said while touting the increased spending on security under his administration.

As he tried to move onto another question, Murphy was interrupted by an audience member questioning his comments.

The woman's comments could not be heard on video from the governor's office. NJ.com reported that the woman told Murphy he was wrong to specify right-wing behavior, which was met by light applause.

"I appreciate that," Murphy said.

"I don't mean right politically but I think a lot of people would accept what I just said as right-wing behavior. It certainly is extremist. Would anyone else agree with me?" Murphy asked to a stronger mix of applause and boos.

Several people shouted comments at the same time but a man in the audience said it's "radical behavior," which Murphy said he agreed with.

"All I'm saying is that I respect your opinions. I view it differently. That's all I'm saying. I'm not telling to you to pound sand. I respect what you're saying. Everyone hold on," Murphy said.

NJ.com reported that one audience member called Murphy a "communist."

The event appeared to have only one microphone that Murphy used and shared with audience members asking questions.

The governor has been criticized by conservatives and Republicans for his criticism of President Donald Trump and his support for higher income taxes on the wealthy and for licenses for unauthorized immigrants, tighter gun policies and restrictions on local law enforcement cooperation of ICE.

The governor also mentioned his successful efforts to shut down the Facebook group Rise Up Ocean County, whose administrators and followers had expressed concern about the overpopulation of Lakewood by Orthodox Jews. Facebook agreed with Murphy's contention the page violated its community standards on hate speech.

"I hope we'll see from that specific behavioral incidences of right wing behavior going down and not up,"  Murphy said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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