BAYONNE, NJ - A post to a local Facebook group raised concerns among local officials and has prompted an investigation by the Bayonne Police Department.
Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti said he had received a number of messages from concerned residents that alerted him to a posting that appeared to endorse lynching.
“People texted me overnight and I woke up to find the image posted on a private Facebook page to which I’m not a member, and what’s worse is the text that went along with it.”
The image was that of a man hanging from a tree accompanied with a caption saying, “Time to Bring this back,” and “We need to start this again.”
Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition Movement Executive Director Pamela Johnson called attention to the posting before it was removed from the chatroom.
Chiaravalloti said he spoke with the mayor’s office, as well as the local police, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office and the state Attorney General.
“We need to call attention to these things as we were taught by the Civil Rights movement and then call them out,” he said. “But I’m upset by the fact that people in that chat room didn’t call it out when they saw it as being unacceptable.”
The post was made by Scott Guzzi in the Facebook group Bayonne Talks Freely which has been called a conservative page – although some members claim it is about the town and not strictly about politics. This posting, however, was allegedly being critical of protests ongoing in Portland, Oregon.
But there were several responses to the posting made by members of the page,
“This really doesn't make any sense for people to make statements on Bayonne Freely or Bayonne Talk to allow such racist remarks and signs like it's ok for people to do this… It’s not right and things like this needs to be addressed,” said one member.
"Bayonne Talks Freely" is temporarily shutting down to revamp because of Guzzi's post as per admin of the group -- according to one of the site’s organizers, who added a personal note that the person who posted the image and text should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Local police apparently, who are investigating the matter, have been attempting to reach the person responsible for posting it. "We are aware of this matter and have been in communication with the Bayonne Police Department as they are handling the investigation at this time,” said Jennifer Morrill, a spokeswoman for the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.
In a post of her own, Hudson County Assemblywoman Angela McKnight condemned the racist comments. "I'm upset to learn that people who live in my district would spew such racist remarks in this day and age," she said.
"There is no place in this district or in this world for this type of racist, hateful behavior. This type of language and attitude is reminiscent of a hurtful past that my ancestors had to overcome and it pains me as an African American woman that people in my district would be so cruel as to post pictures of lynching and make such hateful comments," McKnight added.
Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted about the matter saying hate and bigotry have no place in Bayonne or anywhere else in New Jersey.
Sign up for TAPinto Bayonne E-News alerts to be the first to read about all things Bayonne!
Know a story we should share with readers? Email editor Steve Lenox and tell him about it.