Jersey City BOE Member Called on to Resign after Anti-Semitic Comments on Kosher Supermarket Shooting

Emergency personnel and investigators work at the scene the day after an hours-long gun battle with two men around a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S., December 11, 2019. (Lloyd Mitchell/Reuters)

A Jersey City Board of Education member is facing mounting calls to step down over controversial comments she made about Jewish people after the deadly shooting at a kosher grocery store last week.

Jersey City Board of Education Trustee Joan Terrell-Paige called Jews “brutes” and slammed what she said was a double standard of sympathy for the Jewish community over her own black community.

“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?” Terrell-Paige wrote in a since deleted Facebook post.

“They brazenly came on the property of Ward F Black homeowners and waved bags of money,” she added.

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On December 10, two shooters associated with the Black Hebrew Israelites group opened fire on a kosher grocery store in Jersey City, killing three people and resulting in their own deaths. The Black Hebrew Israelites are a black nationalist organization that subscribes to an anti-semitic and anti-white theology.

Terrell-Paige’s remarks sparked immediate condemnation from Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and Governor Phil Murphy, who have both called for her resignation. Democratic State Committee Chairman John Currie and the New Jersey School Boards Association denounced her comments as well.

Fulop, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, previously said he was concerned about the “very aggressive solicitation” tactics of some in the Orthodox Jewish community.

Jersey City’s Board of Education President Sudhan Thomas proposed a resolution to censure Terrell-Paige and request her immediate resignation. Her term ends at the end of next year.

“I have come to this conclusion after a lot of review, outside counsel but importantly in the continuum of the strong sentiments expressed by the elected political leadership across Jersey City, Hudson County and the State of New Jersey,” Thomas said Wednesday in a statement.

Terrell-Paige has since admitted that the controversy “has gotten bigger than I thought it would, unfortunately” and promised to release a statement on her problematic remarks.

However, some came to Terrell-Paige’s defense, including several prominent members of the black community.

Carolyn Oliver Fair, executive director of the North Jersey Chapter of the National Action Network, the civil rights group founded by Reverend Al Sharpton, said critics “need to shut their mouths.”

“How dare they speak out against someone saying how they feel. She said nothing wrong. Everything she said is the truth. So where is this anti-Semitism coming in? I am not getting it,” Fair said.

Members of the Hudson County Democratic Black Caucus added their voices in support of the education board member.

While the group “does not condone hatred towards any group” and does “not agree with the delivery of the statement made by Ms. Terrell-Paige’s statement, caucus members said they “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.”

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