SECAUCUS --Three former firefighters at the center of a controversial push to get them back on the Secaucus Volunteer Fire Department have told Mayor Michael Gonnelli they do not wish to rejoin the department at this time.
The three men - Charles Snyder, his son, also named Charles Snyder, and Charles Mutschler - resigned from the Secaucus Volunteer Fire Department in 2008 after a Hudson County Superior Court jury awarded a gay couple $2.8 million for harassment. The gay couple said they were harassed while living next to the North End firehouse. The jury also awarded the two men $2 million for their legal fees.
Throughout the case, Snyder Sr., Snyder Jr., and Mutschler were accused in testimony and police reports of allegedly having been involved in one specific attack in which insults and items were allegedly thrown at the men's house.
After the trial ended, the men chose to resign rather than face an administrative hearing. But the three men were never arrested and were never charged with a crime.
In December members of Engine Co. 2/Rescue Co. 1 wrote a letter to the town asking that the three men be reinstated. Two attorneys for the town have been reviewing this request.
Gonnelli met with Snyder, Snyder, and Mutschler late Monday. At the meeting the three told Gonnelli that they had no interest in being reinstated "at this time."
The mayor says he didn't press the men on whether they might seek reinstatement at some later date.
This meeting took place just hours after Garden State Equality, a statewide gay rights organization, announced plans to protest at Secaucus Town Hall at 6 p.m. Following the protest, the activists had further plans to attend the 7 p.m. Secaucus Town Council meeting, which is open to the public.
Gonnelli met Tuesday morning with Steven Goldstein, president of Garden State Equality, in an attempt to avoid a protest. It was unknown at press time whether the group would still attend the meeting. -
Garden State Equality President Steven Goldstein called the Reporter this afternoon to report that the organization still plans to attend tonight's Secaucus Town Council meeting at 7 p.m. and will stage a protest before the meeting at 6 p.m.
E. Assata Wright