JERSEY CITY, NJ (VINnews/Sandy Eller) – A disturbing Facebook post has caused on uproar on social media, with a member of the Jersey City’s Board of Education suggesting that Chasidic residents brought last week’s act of terror upon themselves and that Jews were responsible for the problems plaguing the local African-American community.
Joan Terrell-Paige was one of three school board members elected in 2018, winning more than 17 percent of the total votes cast. A lifelong resident of Jersey City, Terrell-Paige posted her rant in response to an Inside NJ (http://bit.ly/2Ewbfe4) article on an interfaith vigil in Jersey City that took place on December 12th focusing on the need for solidarity and common ground in the wake of the supermarket attack.
“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 [sic] community?” wrote Terrell-Paige.
The tirade continued with statements that accused six rabbis of selling body parts, insinuations that the Jewish community has deliberately planted guns and drugs in Jersey City and that terrorists David Anderson and Francine Graham were ready to die in order to highlight the inequities being perpetrated on Jersey City’s black residents by their Jewish neighbors.
Terrell-Paige discounted the Insider NJ story titled Faith and Hope to Fight Hate, saying, “It was about taking from one community and giving to another community. There was no concern of faith and hope. This is just a small portion of the pains of the Black community now being ignored in this rush to faith and hope.”
The post concluded with Terrell-Paige noting that she was speaking as a private citizen and not as a representative of the Board of Education, after posing the questions “Are we brave enough to stop the assault on the Black communities of America? My people deserve respect and to live in peace in this city.”
Terrell-Paige’s words were removed from Facebook but have been making the rounds on social media, where they have been widely viewed. Dr. Nina Fernandez, deputy supervisor of the Jersey City Board of Education, was quick to distance the board from Terrell-Paige’s views and saying that board president Sudhan Thomas was investigating the matter.
“Hatred has no place in Jersey City schools,” Dr. Fernandez told VIN News. “We are focused on tolerance and acceptance and diversity.”
Several people took Terrell-Paige to task on Twitter, noting that authorities are still determining if Anderson and Graham had actually been targeting the Jersey City cheder and its young students.
“Wow, Joan Terrell blaming all the injustices of black people in NYC on Jews, suggests the murders in New Jersey of Jews was justified,” wrote Jason Davis. “Would she still say that if the killers were able to get to the 50 or so children they were aiming for?”
Those thoughts were echoed by Fox 5’s Kayla Mamelak who wrote, “This is absolutely horrifying. Let’s not forget that investigators believe that Anderson & Graham intended to attack the yeshiva next door, not the kosher grocery store. There were more than 50 CHILDREN inside at the time. Please, Joan Terrell, try and justify that ‘message.’”
The Board of Education’s next scheduled meeting will be taking place on Thursday at William L. Dickinson High School. Former Assemblyman Dov Hikind issued a call on social media for people to attend the meeting and demand Terrell-Paige’s resignation.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop also called for Terrell-Paige to step down from her board position.
“That type of language has no place in our schools and no place amongst elected officials,” tweeted Fulop. “Imagine she said this about any other community – what would the reaction be? The same standard should apply here.”
Fulop praised the African- American community in the Greenville section of Jersey City on Twitter for being supportive of their Chasidic neighbors in the wake of the horrific shooting.
“I’m saddened by the ignorance her comments demonstrate,” tweeted Fulop. “Her comments don’t represent Jersey City or the sentiment in the community at all.”
Those thoughts were echoed by Jersey City resident Chesky Deutsch who said everyone in Greenville shares the same objective – finding affordable housing – regardless of their race or religion. Deutsch said that Jersey City’s Chasidic community is grateful for the outpouring of love it has received in the past week.
“Everyone of all denominations and all races has been very supportive,” said Deutsch. “I have gotten messages from so many people expressing their support that I haven’t even been able to open them all.”
Terrell-Paige, who described herself in her official bio as a former teacher for handicapped adults and a “strong advocate for the rights of seniors and residents of Ward F,” did not respond to a request for comment.