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Candlelight vigil to support resolution to combat domestic violence in Bayonne

The resolution came in response to Black in Bayonne calls for city action on the issue

Camille High (left) lights a candle at a vigil in Bayonne in 2021 honoring those affected by domestic violence. Photo by Daniel Israel.

Black in Bayonne is set to hold a candlelight vigil outside of City Hall before the next Bayonne City Council meeting on March 16, in support of a resolution to combat domestic violence in the city.

“We are asking the general public to join us as we push for policy, for this particular resolution to be in place for Bayonne,” co-founder of Black in Bayonne Camille High told the Bayonne Community News. High regularly supports those affected by domestic violence, holding yearly events in Bayonne to remember survivors as well as those whose lives have been lost.

The vigil in support of the resolution will be held at 6 p.m. in front of City Hall at 630 Avenue C. High is asking residents to attend the candlelight vigil and then the council meeting afterwards to show support for the proposal to combat domestic violence. 

The proposal comes after the shocking death of 33-year old Mely Vanessa Tafoya Mendoza, whose husband was charged with her murder on March 2. Following her death, Black in Bayonne called for the city to take action to: assess the current domestic violence data; meet local organizations and leaders to brainstorm possible solutions that fit the needs of the community; create strong resources including crisis intervention, hot lines, and safe spaces; and educate the community on domestic violence.

Black in Bayonne also urged people not to forget the names of other women of color who have lost their lives to domestic violence in Bayonne, including Diamond Robinson who died in 2019 and Kenia Collado who died in 2011. Additionally, the group highlighted some domestic violence resources currently available including the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233, the 24-hour hotline for Women Rising at 201-333-5700, and the Hudson Pride Center at 201-693-4779.

Ashe-Nadrowski proposes resolution

In response to Black in Bayonne’s calls for action by the city, City Council President and mayoral candidate Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski has proposed a resolution that would create “an inclusive and accessible educational program.” Black in Bayonne, a non-political organization which is not supporting or endorsing any candidates in the upcoming May municipal election, regularly works with a variety of public officials to address community issues.

According to Ashe-Nadrowski, the city has seen an uptick in crime and the death of Mely Vanessa Tafoya Mendoza is the latest example. The resolution supports “educational, intervention, and outreach programs to combat the issue of domestic violence.”

Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski addresses supporters at a March 7 community meeting. Photo courtesy of the Ashe-Nadrowski campaign.

“We can’t only honor all the great things women do in our community and ignore all the hardships that women experience everyday,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “We have a responsibility to provide meaningful resources for those in our communities who are suffering from domestic violence and don’t know where to reach out for help. Educational programs bring resources to the residents of Bayonne and takes a step in the right direction to make Bayonne a safer community by creating partnerships with nonprofits who have experience working in our community and reaching out to our homes and families.”

The resolution would allocate $25,000 from the American Rescue Plan to various non-profits whose mission is to educate or combat domestic violence.

“The work has to be in the legislation,” said High. “Not in conversations, not in opinions, but in legislation. Here’s evidence of what the work looks like when it includes all of us.”

Not just women

The resolution would not only focus on non-profits who work mainly with women, but also seeks to bring community partners that have experience with communities of color and the LGBTQIA+ community as well. Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate against race, sexual orientation, economic status, religion or gender identity, and Ashe-Nadrowski said she is committed to ensuring this is an inclusive program that reaches as many residents of Bayonne as possible.

“We must remember Mely Vanessa Tafoya Mendoza, and all of those whose lives have been lost to domestic violence year after year, ” said Ashe-Nadrowski. “Bayonne needs a leader who is committed to funding programs that will invest in our communities and keep our residents safe. We need to work with our community members to bring services we know will be life saving to our neighbors.”

High touted the inclusivity of the wording of the resolution, which specifically uses terminology specifically inclusive of people of color and the LGBTQIA+ community and considers the gender bias people have when thinking about domestic violence.

“When people think of domestic violence, they only think of the women,” High said. “They don’t think about same sex couples. They don’t think of the whole picture. Everybody is affected by domestic violence. That’s why it’s important that the legislation in Bayonne looked at all the people that live here.”

The resolution will be up for a vote at the next Bayonne City Council meeting on March 16, at 7 p.m. in the municipal chambers at City Hall at 630 Avenue C. For more information, go to bayonnenj.org.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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