BAYONNE, NJ - Seven of the nine members of the Bayonne Board of Education gathered for an emergency session Tuesday. Trustee Michael Alonso, whose Facebook comments on Sunday have drawn strong rebuke, as well as calls for his resignation, did not attend the meeting.
“Where will the Bayonne Riot Start? Walmart-QuikChek-ShopRite?’ Alonso asked in the Sunday post, referring to unrest that has occurred in city’s across the US following the death of George Floyd, an African American man, at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. That officer has now been charged with murder in the case.
On Monday Mayor Jimmy Davis, a retired captain with the Bayonne Police Department, said that Floyd’s death “should have never happened.”
In a second post Alonso shared a cartoon that depicted presidential candidate Joe Biden adjusting a sign that read “Black Live Matter” to read “Black Votes Matter.”
Speaking before the Board of Education began consideration of a resolution condemning Alonso’s posts, clarifying that they are his alone and not reflective of the Bayonne Board of Education, and decrying and rebuking “racism, intolerance, and insensitivity” of any kind, Bayonne Education Association President Gene Woods took the microphone.
Woods said that he was raised in a home where “homophobia and hatred” were constants, but that he went to college and learned how to “speak up and represent people the way he should have” when he was younger, and suggested that Alonso himself needs to be “reducated.”
Despite unanimous support for the resolutions, the announced inability to remove Alonso from the board drew Woods back to the microphone later to say that he will not let the “lack of sensitivity” stand. “I am going to be the troublemaker,” Woods announced. “He can not remain.”
Also speaking from the public gallery was Reverend Dorothy Patterson who started by sharing the 1967 words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said at the time that “we have much to do in race relations,” in the United States.
“Black Americans have a right to be angry,” Patterson said before adding her hope that the anger will be channeled into action that is “positive, relevant, and transformative.”
“Change is not enough,” she said. Expressing her own anger that more couldn’t be done in response to Alsonso’s statements Patterson said that by allowing him to remain on the Board his colleagues were “putting a knee on the necks of every African American in this city.”
If protests and demonstrations do come to Bayonne, Patterson said, she had better see every trustee walking with them. If not, she concluded “you are standing somewhere against us.”
Each member of the board spoke on the matter prior to casting their vote, with Vice President Christopher Munoz offering the strongest demand for Alonso’s resignation. Calling the posts a “betrayal” and another “divisive” act by his colleague, Munoz offered his belief that he has lost the right to be called a trustee.
Unable to hide her emotion a teary eyed Maria Valado, the board president, closed the meeting by speaking directly to Patterson and promising to “be at the front” of any demonstration.
“It’s time to end social injustices in this country.”
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