Old Bridge official tells colleague, a hate crime victim, ‘You only care about blacks sometimes’
OLD BRIDGE — The issue of cultural competency training was initially met with silence at the latest township council meeting after a man was charged with a hate crime for sending a racist email to the township's only Black council member.
But after some discussion, a white colleague told Councilwoman Edina Brown, "I feel that you only care about Blacks sometimes."
Attending the meeting remotely on Tuesday night, Brown thanked the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office and Old Bridge police for attentiveness and help in finding the suspect who police said had sent a racist and vulgar email to Brown on March 7.
Adam Valvo, 52, of Old Bridge, was charged in late April with two counts of fourth-degree bias intimidation and one count of harassment. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal called Valvo's email "vile, racist and threatening.”
Brown said not one of her eight council colleagues reached out to her personally after the investigation.
“Their words and actions towards me have seemed to become more angry and more dismissive,” Brown said.
After saying that she would no longer press for cultural competency training, Brown then asked the rest of the council, “What do you have to say about your behavior?”
The question was met with silence followed by the township human resources manager outlining two upcoming training sessions.
Another councilman did weigh in after Brown's repeated requests for a discussion.
“I have never done anything to get you upset or ever said anything to you,” Councilman John Murphy said.
"At one meeting, you had said — unless I’m wrong — you had said that 'all white males are racists.' And I kind of felt taken aback by that. I care about all the people, I treat ‘em all equal and I feel that you only care about Blacks sometimes, and that’s how I feel,” Murphy continued.
Brown said that she had never made such a comment.
"If you can find that, please let me know. I think that people felt that I said that, which is probably their own internal guilt. But I’ve never called anyone there racist," she said.
“My husband is a white male — so all white males are racist, I think that’s a stretch,” Brown said. “People think that caring about people that are marginalized, means you don’t care about white people, and it’s just not true.”
After some more back and forth, Murphy broke in.
“I didn’t want to get into an argument. This is why nobody wants to talk with you,” he said.
At the April council meeting, Brown at one point said "I think I brought up race by being here."
In an opinion piece written last spring for Insider NJ, Brown said that about a third of Old Bridge's population is made up of non-white constituents.