NJ school official gets support after referring to Jewish real estate ‘brutes’
JERSEY CITY — As the city's Board of Education discusses whether to call for the resignation of one its members over comments she made about Jewish people in the wake of a massacre at a kosher market last month, a Democratic candidate for Congress is trying to rally support for her.
The post by Joan Terrell-Paige, who is black, brought up the practice of "blockbusting," in which residents are aggressively and unscrupulously encouraged by salesmen to sell their homes.
“Where was all this faith and hope when black homeowners were threatened, intimidated and harassed by I WANT TO BUY YOUR HOUSE brutes of the Jewish community,” Terrell-Paige wrote in a post that is no longer publicly available.
Terrell-Paige wrote about the aggressive manner in which black residents are being intimidated and the "assault on the black communities of America."
The post went up just days after Douglas Rodriguez, Leah Minda Ferencz and Moshe Hersh Deutch were killed by two black shooters at the JC Kosher Supermarket on Dec. 10. Jersey City police Detective Joseph Seals was shot dead at a cemetery moments earlier.
“To me her remarks were an invitation for the entire city to discuss honestly what led up to such a horrific event," House candidate John Flora said Tuesday. "There is a lingering resentment in certain transitioning neighborhoods that I’m not sure repeated sit-downs with the same community leaders will ever resolve.”
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, Gov. Phil Murphy and school board president Sudhan Thomas called for Terrell-Paige to resign in response to her comments.
Thomas was going to introduce a measure to censure Terrell-Paige and call for to step down at a meeting on Dec.19 but the meeting was canceled over what Thomas described as security concerns. The issue also was temporarily overshadowed by news that day that Thomas had been charged in bribery sting.
Flora, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr. in the 10th Congressional District's Democratic primary, drew attention to a vigil in support of Terrell-Paige at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Fred W. Martin Center for the Arts at School 41 before the board's meeting.
The 15-year teacher criticized those who called for the immediate resignation of Terrell-Paige.
“I can see why some people said her comments lacked sensitivity. She shouldn’t have directly asked ‘what is the message [that the shooters] were sending?’" he said in a written statement on Tuesday. "But there still remains a bigger conversation to be had by the city and the school district alike. The Black community has been plagued by violence and a sense of abandonment for decades. Tragedies happen all the time in certain areas of Jersey City without any national attention. There is an outcry for help here we can no longer ignore.”
Flora rejected a headline by the New Jersey Globe that characterized him as defending her comments.
"The press has a way of writing headlines. Never have I condoned anti-Semitism. Rather, I encourage our elective officials to communicate w/ each other before demanding a resignation," he wrote on his campaign's Facebook page linking to the Globe's story.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect that Flora was sharing the details about the vigil but did not organize or participate it.
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