BAYONNE, NJ - Calling accusations against him baseless, Bayonne Board of Education Trustee Michael Alonso said that despite calls, including from several of his colleagues on the body, Reverend Dorothy Patterson, the Bayonne Education Association, and others to give up his post, he will not resign after over Facebook posts he made that some have been called racist and insensitive.
“It isn’t racist,” Alonso said. “I didn’t mention `The F Word’ (George Floyd). I just made an observation about something that was happening in our community, and some people didn’t like hearing it.”
George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, died at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. That officer has now been charged with murder in the case. Mayor Jimmy Davis, a retired captain with the Bayonne Police Department, has said that Floyd’s death “should have never happened.”
Alonso claims he saw many Bayonne businesses boarding up their windows ahead of the expected protest, and wondered whether incidents of rioting and looting some other communities have seen in the wake of the death of George Floyd would occur locally.
“Where will the Bayonne Riot Start? Walmart- QuickChek- Shoprite?” Alonso asked, a question other Board of Education members said may have been an incitement to violence.
“I just said what many people were thinking when they saw the wood being put up on these stores,” Alonso said.
The Hudson County Republican organization – with whom Alonso has had a running feud for years and recently successfully sued regarding candidates and their positions on the primary ballots – released their own statement regarding the post.
“He represents a school system, even when in politics, you have to respect the opinion, but needs to be more sensitive when representing children,” said Jose Arango, chair of the Hudson County Republican Party. “As Republicans we need to be more sensitive, more diverse and more progressive and to avoid the demagoguery that allows Democrats to portray us as racist and anti-everything.”
Arango said the Hudson Republicans are the most diverse Republican group in the state.
“Ninety percent of the party here are minority,” he said. “I’ve been chairman for 20 years, and as long as I am chairman or even around, I won’t tolerate racism.” Arango said statements like Alonso’s work against the goals the party has set to be more cooperative with Democrats.
“We need to work together the way we used to,” Arango told TAPinto Bayonne. “This means there is no room for discrimination.”
Claiming that Party leadership are too close with local and county Democrats, Alonso has attempted several times to take control of the local Republican organization.
Alonso stuck to his guns when pressed about the potential racist innuendo of the posts and shared his belief that some of the rhetoric that claims “Black Lives Matter” may be part of a campaign tactic to get Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden elected. In addition to the post about potential looting, Alonso shared a cartoon that depicted presidential candidate Joe Biden adjusting a sign that read “Black Live Matter” to read “Black Votes Matter.”
“Apparently someone who is a friend on Facebook with me took a screenshot and brought it to the board president,” Alonso said. “She reposted it. The post got more hits on her Facebook page than it ever got on mine.”
Alonso said he’s received no support on this from public officials but has received emails of support from people. “I’m the only one willing to say it,” he said. “I always say things people are thinking but too afraid to say. That’s how I got elected.”
Alonso is running for reelection in November.
“They can’t make me resign, even though they have called everybody in the state including the Commissioner. But if they want to remove me, vote me out.”
“I didn’t do anything wrong, and I’m definitely not resigning,” he said. “People have been asking me to resign from the day I took office.”
Alonso said Bayonne police came to his house to question the post. “But since I didn’t say anything racist, they couldn’t do anything,” he said.
“The fact is, we have an-all white board with all white leadership with mostly white principals.” Alonso offered, adding during the recent search for a new superintendent he asked the board to hire a black candidate from Camden – someone who had done a lot to raise the test scores of students there. His suggestion, Alonso claimed, was rebuffed, “I was told this was Bayonne and that Bayonne wasn’t ready for a black superintendent.”
“It must have cost the district $4,000 to hold a meeting to talk about me,” he said of the Emergency Meeting of the Board of Education that was held on June 2 to discuss the matter. “And yet, we have a hard time finding money for graduations.” Alonso said he didn’t go to the meeting about his posting because the notice was too last minute.
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