Jersey City mayor: Schools official who called Jews ‘brutes’ should resign

Education board distances itself from Joan Terrell Paige, who in now deleted Facebook post suggested there was value to message of kosher market attackers

Jersey City, New Jersey Mayor Steven Fulop speaks during a press conference at the scene of the JC Kosher Supermarket shooting, December 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Jersey City, New Jersey Mayor Steven Fulop speaks during a press conference at the scene of the JC Kosher Supermarket shooting, December 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

The mayor of Jersey City said Tuesday a school board member should quit over comments she made about the shooting at a kosher market, referring to Jews as “brutes” and questioning whether the attackers had a point to make in attacking Jews.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop tweeted that Board of Education member Joan Terrell Paige’s comments on the social media platform from the weekend “has no place in our schools.”

He also called for Paige to step down.

“Imagine she said this about any other community – what would the reaction be?,” he wrote on Twitter. “The same standard should apply here.”

A message seeking comment was left with Paige. The comment appears to have been removed from Facebook, but was preserved in screenshots.

Board of Education President Sudhan Thomas said in an emailed statement that Paige does not reflect the views of the board and doesn’t speak for it. She was elected to the board last year.

“There is no room for any kind of hate or bigotry in Jersey City,” Thomas said.

Paige was responding to another person’s comment about the December 10 fatal attack that left a police officer and three civilians, including two Orthodox Jews, at the JC Kosher Supermarket dead.

Paige’s post said that members of the black community had been threatened and harassed to sell their homes by “brutes of the jewish community.” She went on to question whether the attackers, both whom were killed in a shootout with police, may have had had “a message” to send.

Authorities have said the attack was motivated by anti-Semitic and anti-law enforcement attitudes.

This photo from April 24, 2011, provided by the Kent, Ohio Police Department shows David Anderson, one of two gunmen who killed four people in Jersey City, New Jersey, December 10, 2019. (Kent Police Department via AP)

The shooters, named by authorities as David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50, had expressed interest in a black fringe group called the Black Hebrew Israelites.

“Where was all this faith and hope when Black homeowners were being threatened, intimidated and harassed by I WANT TO BUY YOUR HOUSE brutes of the jewish community? (sic) They brazenly came on the property of Ward F Black homeowners and waved bags of money,” Paige wrote on Facebook, according to a screenshot circulating on social media.

In the post, Paige said “6 rabbis were accused of selling body parts” and seemed to imply that there was value in the shooters’ message. The post has since been taken down, according to the Hudson County View.

“Mr. Anderson and Ms. Graham went directly to the kosher supermarket,” she wrote of the shooters. “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?”

Responders work to clean up the scene of a shooting that left multiple people dead at a kosher market, December 11, 2019, in Jersey City, New Jersey. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)

Fulop, who is Jewish, told JTA on Friday that an influx of Orthodox Jews in recent years had created tension in the the Greenville neighborhood, which has a significant African-American community.

At times, some of the Jews “aggressively” attempted to buy homes, Fulop said, which led to resentment and complaints from some local residents, although there were no previous attacks.

People familiar with the Greenville Jewish community told JTA after the shooting that community members had gotten along well with locals.

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