Joan Terrell-Paige posted an anti-Semitic rant following the shootings at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City that claimed the lives of three innocent victims.
By United with Israel Staff
Despite calls for her resignation due to an anti-Semitic screed she posted after a shooting at a kosher market in her city, Jersey City Public Schools Board of Education member Joan Terrell-Paige refuses to step down from her post.
While Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Board of Education President Sudhan Thomas asked her to resign, certain members of her community have voiced support of her offensive statements.
Following the Jersey City shooting attack on December 10, Terrell-Paige posted on Facebook statements deemed anti-Semitic by many, and was accused of sympathizing with the shooters.
Three innocent people were murdered in the rampage, along with a policeman. The two perpetrators of the heinous shootings were eliminated during a standoff.
Terrell-Paige’s post, which has since been deleted, appeared to justify the horrific murders. Calling Jews “brutes,” she urged people to ask themselves, “What is the message [the killers] were sending? Are we brave enough to explore the answer to their message?”
The shooting was deemed “domestic terrorism” by authorities “fueled by both anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement beliefs.”
Anti-Defamation League New York and New Jersey Regional Director Evan Bernstein said her post was “deeply anti-Semitic and highly offensive to the victims [of the Jersey City shooting],” according to JNS.
At a Board of Education meeting scheduled for December 19, Thomas planned to introduce a resolution calling for Terrell-Paige’s resignation. However, the meeting was canceled for “security” reasons.
“Both supporters and opponents of Terrell-Paige were planning to attend and voice their concerns,” according to the Hudson County View, a local paper.
The board did meet on January 2. However, by that time, Thomas had been forced off the board due to bribery charges. The new board president, Lorenzo Richardson, did not continue Thomas’s efforts to remove Terrell-Paige from her position and declined to say if he would in the future, according to JTA.
Defending the Indefensible
Meanwhile, local politicians and residents have come to Terrell-Paige’s defense, saying her position has merit.
“Rather than hastily demanding her resignation, this was an ideal moment for our locally elected to sit down with Mrs. Terrell, clarify her statements, and be prepared to demonstrate empathy,” Democratic candidate for Congress John Flora said , according to Insider NJ.
In a video of the meeting from the Hudson County View, several speakers defended Terrell-Paige. One referred to her as the “Rosa Parks of this era.” Another said that her post was “honest, not anti-Semitic,” according to North Jersey news.
“If I can put my lawyer’s hat on for a second, what Joan said, the literal meanings of what Joan said, were directly applicable not to a Jewish community, but to individuals of the Jewish community,” Neal Brunson, an attorney and head of the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Society Museum in Jersey City, said at the meeting. “This is important because when you label someone anti-Semitic, you must do your homework.”
The Hudson County Democratic Black Caucus praised Terrell-Paige for raising awareness of the issues facing people living in communities with Jews. “While we do not agree with the delivery of the statement made by Ms. Terrell-Paige, we believe that her statement has heightened awareness around issues that must be addressed and should be a topic of a larger conversation by two communities that have already and must always continue to coexist harmoniously,” wrote the caucus on Facebook.
As an elected official, Terrell-Paige cannot be ousted from her position, whose term ends in December 2021.
“While neither the governor nor the mayor have any legal ability to force her resignation, the mayor intends on continuing to organize the community to advocate for her resignation,” said Mayor Fulop’s office, in a statement on Monday to JTA.
“Violence targeting Jews—or any ethnic, racial, or religious minority—is abhorrent, yet instead of condemning these attacks, mourning with her community, and committing to fight violent anti-Semitism, Ms. Terrell-Paige is fanning the flames of hate,” Ronald Lauder, founder of the Anti-Semitism Accountability Project, said in a statement , according to North Jersey news.
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