Local and state officials called for the resignation of a Jersey City Board of Education trustee after she posted comments on Facebook referring to members of the Jewish community as “brutes” following the mass shooting on Dec. 10 in Jersey City’s Greenville neighborhood. She also questioned whether the shooters were making a point in carrying out the attack.
On Dec. 10, David Anderson and Francine Graham, both African American, killed three people, including two members of the Hasidic community in a targeted attack on the JC Kosher Supermarket in an hours-long standoff before police entered the building and found the shooters dead.
Board of Education Trustee Joan Terrell-Paige, who was elected in 2018 and whose term expires at the end of next year, wrote a Facebook comment regarding a story on InsiderNJ about a recent gathering of religious and civic leaders who convened to address the growing tension between the African American and Jewish communities.
“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?” she wrote in the since-deleted post. “They brazenly came on the property of Ward F Black homeowners and waved bags of money. Resistance was met with more threats of WE WILL BRING DRUG DEALERS AND PROSTITUTES TO LIVE NEXT DOOR TO YOU. YOU WILL SELL TO US THEN. Where was this faith and hope?”
Terrell-Paige also wrote in the post that black renters were evicted 30 days after homes were purchased by members of the Hasidic community “so that more Jewish people could move in. Who helped Black people living in rental properties owned by the Jewish people but were given 30-day eviction notices so that more Jewish people could move in?”
In the comments, which she made as a private citizen and not as a member of the board, she questioned the loss of programs in Jersey City that benefited ex-offenders, and the disappearance of community gardens tended by African American community members.
She also references Operation Bid Rig, a 2009 political corruption sting in which a Jewish man pleaded guilty to trafficking human organs.
“Mr. Anderson and Ms. Graham went directly to the kosher supermarket,” Terrell-Paige wrote. “I believe they knew they would come out in body bags. What is the message they were sending? Are we brave enough to explore the answer to their message? Are we brave enough to stop the assault on the black communities of America?”
Calls to resign
“I also said that I am not going to mix words,” tweeted Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. “My opinion is she should resign. That type of language has no place in our schools and no place amongst elected officials. Imagine she said this about any other community — what would the reaction be? The same standard should apply here.”
Gov. Phil Murphy urged Terrell-Paige to resign from the board in a tweet, noting, “We will not let anti-Semitism and hate go unchallenged in our communities.”
In a statement, Jersey City Education Association (JCEA) President Ronnie Greco said he was “deeply dismayed” by the trustee’s comments.
“There is no place for that sort of hateful, divisive rhetoric in our schools or our Jersey City community … ,” he said. “As we mourn the tragic events of one week ago, we should be calling for tolerance and an open dialog and not casting aspersions, pitting one group against another group, or attempting to justify the actions of cold-blooded murderers.”
He said that the JCEA respects Terrell-Paige’s right to have an opinion, but it can’t accept her “prejudiced and anti-Semitic sentiments.” He noted that while her opinion “may reflect a small portion of the community, there is no space for bigotry in our school system.”
He asked for her to resign from the board and attend cultural sensitivity training.
Terrell-Paige did not return an email seeking comment.