Somerset County News

Rally in Somerset County Decries Racism, Bigotry; Speakers Urge Resolve to Unite and Overcome

73959e07d2c7160232c2_sompixrallytulsi.JPG
Dr. Tulsi Maharjan, wearing sunglasses, with members of the Somerset County Cultural Diversity Coalition, speaks at Monday's rally in Somerville. Credits: Rod Hirsch
b90c437eb77c7b76136b_sompixrallysomervillegroup828.JPG
From left, Somerville resident Art Adair; Somerville Mayor Brian Gallagher, Rev. Paul Janssen, Somerville Borough Council president Steve Peter, Rev. Ron Pollock and Rep. Leonard Lance. Credits: Rod Hirsch
014c6c620999dadb4be9_sompixrallygallagher.JPG
Somerville Mayor Brian Gallagher addresses the rally from the steps of the historic Somerset County Courthouse in Somerville. Credits: Rod Hirsch
5f3550408fbc29be2340_sompixrallycrowd.JPG
Part of the crowd at Monday night's Community for Unity rally in Somerville. Credits: Rod Hirsch
130009b5869a18ebad38_sompixrallypollock.JPG
Rev. Ron Pollock, pastor of St. John's Episcopal Church in Somerville, offers a prayer during Monday's rally. Credits: Rod Hirsch
718b04173eca20371fcc_sompixrallylance.JPG
New Jersey Rep. Leonard Lance, R-7th Credits: Rod Hirsch
efb1e4f510c2a28ca320_sompixrallyzwicker.JPG
State Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, D-16th Credits: Rod Hirsch
f757f1ccddb5b6dc594c_sompixrallyhebamacksoud.JPG
Heba Macksoud, board member of the Islamic Society of Central New Jersey addresses the Somerville rally. Credits: Rod Hirsch
76b84afe42a8d1e4227c_sompixrallybateman.JPG
State Sen. Raymond "Kip" Bateman (R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Mercer). Credits: Rod Hirsch
d2dbe8889d689dd4d97f_sompixrallyjanssen__1_.JPG
Rev. Paul Janssen, pastor of the United Reformed Church in Somerville addresses the rally in Somerville Monday night. Credits: Rod Hirsch
73959e07d2c7160232c2_sompixrallytulsi.JPG

 

 

SOMERVILLE, NJ - They came from different walks of life, different cultures, from different sides of the political aisle and different houses of worship.

Some were immigrants, some black, some white, some were Asian and Latino.

Others were gay.

Sign Up for E-News

Men and women, young and old, different from one another but for one common bond - all were Americans.

Several hundred people attended Monday night's "Community for Unity Rally - a Call to Action" at the historic Somerset County Courthouse where they heard more than one dozen speakers decry racism, bigotry and hatred while underscoring the need for decency, respecting different cultures, different political persausions, different religions and differences of opinion.

The speakers were united in their urgency to stand up to those who feel and act otherwise. 

Much of the dialogue echoed on the themes of tolerance and inclusion, peaceful dissent and civil justice espoused by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The rally celebrated the 54th anniversary of King's defining "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

Speakers included Dr. Tulsi Maharjan, Somerset County Cultural Diversity Coalition; State Sen. Christopher "Kip" Bateman, R-16; Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, D-16th; Joe Forte - secretary of the. NJ LGBT Democratic Caucus Victory Fund Campaign Board; M. Ali Chaudry - president, Islamic Society of Basking Ridge and co-Founder, NJ Interfaith Coalition; Rabbi Dan Selsberg, Temple Sholom; Ron Isaacs, Rabbi Emeritus.Temple Sholom; Mark Williams, member AACT-NOW; Karen Gaffney - Professor of English, Raritan Valley Community College and author of soon-to-be-released, "Dismantling the Racism Machine: A Manual and Toolbox;" Carina Gonzalez, Outreach Librarian and professor at RVCC; Aldo Martinez, immigration attorney; Rev. Paul Janssen, United Reform Church; Rev. Ron Pollock, St. John's Episcopal Church; Heba Macksoud, Islamic Society of Central Jersey and New Jersey Rep. Leonard Lance, R-7th.
 
The rally organizers - Kristen Mehrbach, Donna Volpe, Andrea Stathatos, Michelle Edgar, Karen Gaffney and Jen Kitchen - were moved by the violence in Charlottesville, Va., earlier this month and felt the need to bring people together to repudiate the actions of the Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists who grabbed the headlines and dominated the news cycle.
 
Isaacs set the tone for Monday night's rally reading from "We Will Not Yield," a prayer after Charlottesville:

"Today, I am neither Democrat nor Republican, Neither left nor right, nor center.

I am an American, Born to a legacy of truth and justice, Born to a legacy of freedom and equality.

Today, I am a Patriot, who will not yield this nation to hate.

Not to Neo-Nazis, Not to thugs self-styled as militia. Not to slogans or chants. Not to gestures or flags. Not to threats and not to violence.

Hate is hate, Ugly and brutal, and we will not yield.

Today I am a Christian, Muslim and Jew, Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh, Atheist and agnostic.

I am Asian, Latino, Hispanic, African-American, White, Native American and multi-racial.

I am an immigrant, a child of the American Revolution, a veteran and a soldier. I work in the dark depth of the mines and the high towers of Wall Street, in the factories and the farms.

I am gay, lesbian, straight, bi, trans, Man, woman and gender-neutral. I am young, old, blind and deaf, Hearing and sighted, Disabled, Powerful and unafraid.

Truth is truth, That all are created equal, and we will not yield.

Today, I am an American, a citizen of the United States, A child of this great Democracy, A child of this wise republic, Dedicated to liberty, Dedicated to action.

We will not yield."

 

 

 

 

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Franklin Township

Reduce Your Risk for Colorectal Cancer

April 25, 2018

Morristown Medical Center’s Carol G. Simon Cancer Center presents “Protecting Your Colorectal Health” on Tuesday, May 1 from 6:00 to 8:00pm at the Morristown Medical Center Health Pavilion, 333 Mount Hope Avenue in Rockaway. Admission is free.

This popular, educational program presents an opportunity to hear up-to-date presentations from leading ...

East Brunswick's Rachelle Francois Missing Since Friday

April 25, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Rachelle Francois is a missing and endangered person from East Brunswick.

She was released from Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, NY on Friday, April 20, 2018 around noon.

Francois was placed in a taxi cab by the hospital and then went to an unknown address in Elizabeth, not to her home in East Brunswick.

Ms. Francois requires medications, and it is believed ...

Piscataway Officials Announce Plans to Build New Community Center

PISCATAWAY, NJ – Piscataway residents and visitors can now look forward to swimming laps, shooting hoops and showing their creativity in a central gathering space as plans are under way to build a new community center in town.

Piscataway officials announced on Monday that construction is expected to begin at the end of the year on a center that will include three swimming pools, a ...

Kurt Steiner, a Holocaust Survivor, tells Life Story as 106th Birthday Draws Near

CRANFORD, NJ – In a quaint white house near the border of Cranford and Garwood, 105-year-old Kurt Steiner sat at his dining room table, surrounded by cabinets that held his collection of Viennese glass and antique Limoge plates. At his table, he had his carefully taped together passport and exit papers from Vienna, Austria, stamped with a large “J” and “Jude,” the ...

New Brunswick: Water Department workers guilty in scheme costing city $500,000

NEW BRUNSWICK – Two city Water Department employees have pleaded guilty to charges of falsely reducing water to about 50 different properties in exchange for bribes, costing the city about $500,000, state officials announced.

Joseph “Gordo” DeBonis, 55 of Toms River, a suspended senior account clerk, and William “Billi” Ortiz, 56, of North Brunswick, a meter ...

Police Investigate Bias Incident in Montgomery, Seek Help from Public

MONTGOMERY, NJ - Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson and township Police Director/Capt. Thomas Wain are asking the public for help in the investigation of what is being considered a bias crime.

Detectives assigned to the investigation released that the following information based on the preliminary and ongoing investigation, which continues to evolve as investigators interview ...

Area Rotary Club Fair: Fun Place to Do Business

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - The Rotary Club of Hillsborough will provide local businesses multiple opportunities to showcase their services and connect directly with customers at its 11th annual Rotary Fair, scheduled this year for Aug. 14–19.

More than 15,000 people from Hillsborough and surrounding communities are expected to visit the weeklong family event held at the Hillsborough Promenade, ...

East Brunswick's Rachelle Francois Missing Since Friday

April 25, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Rachelle Francois is a missing and endangered person from East Brunswick.

She was released from Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, NY on Friday, April 20, 2018 around noon.

Francois was placed in a taxi cab by the hospital and then went to an unknown address in Elizabeth, not to her home in East Brunswick.

Ms. Francois requires medications, and it is believed ...

Piscataway Officials Announce Plans to Build New Community Center

PISCATAWAY, NJ – Piscataway residents and visitors can now look forward to swimming laps, shooting hoops and showing their creativity in a central gathering space as plans are under way to build a new community center in town.

Piscataway officials announced on Monday that construction is expected to begin at the end of the year on a center that will include three swimming pools, a ...

Kurt Steiner, a Holocaust Survivor, tells Life Story as 106th Birthday Draws Near

CRANFORD, NJ – In a quaint white house near the border of Cranford and Garwood, 105-year-old Kurt Steiner sat at his dining room table, surrounded by cabinets that held his collection of Viennese glass and antique Limoge plates. At his table, he had his carefully taped together passport and exit papers from Vienna, Austria, stamped with a large “J” and “Jude,” the ...

New DMV Facility in South Plainfield Should Ease Crunch in Somerville

April 23, 2018

SOMERVILLE, NJ  - B. Sue Fulton is just beginning to find her away around her new office in Trenton , but the newly-sworn director of the Department of Motor Vehicles found her way to Somerville Saturday at the invitation of state Sen. Christopher Kip Bateman for a visit to the local DMV office on Roosevelt Place which has been causing headaches for neighborhood residents.

She arrived 45 ...

Somerset County Town to Close Library

WATCHUNG, NJ  - The Watchung Borough Council voted on Thursday night, before packed chambers and over 500 watching on Facebook live,  to close the Watchung Library and explore redevelopment of the library site on Stirling Road.

After years of discussion and debate, the council decided not to renovate the existing library or construct a new library. Mayor Stephen Pote ...

Somerset Resident Wins Gold at the 2018 New Jersey SkillsUSA Championships

BRIDGEWATER, NJ – On April 14, Somerset County Vocational & Technical High School students competed against other career and technical education students from around the state at the 2018 New Jersey SkillsUSA Championships. 

Out of the 94 students from SCVTHS who competed, 63 received medals including 27 gold.  The gold medal winners are now eligible to test their skills in ...

New DMV Facility in South Plainfield Should Ease Crunch in Somerville

April 23, 2018

SOMERVILLE, NJ  - B. Sue Fulton is just beginning to find her away around her new office in Trenton , but the newly-sworn director of the Department of Motor Vehicles found her way to Somerville Saturday at the invitation of state Sen. Christopher Kip Bateman for a visit to the local DMV office on Roosevelt Place which has been causing headaches for neighborhood residents.

She arrived 45 ...

Somerset County Town to Close Library

WATCHUNG, NJ  - The Watchung Borough Council voted on Thursday night, before packed chambers and over 500 watching on Facebook live,  to close the Watchung Library and explore redevelopment of the library site on Stirling Road.

After years of discussion and debate, the council decided not to renovate the existing library or construct a new library. Mayor Stephen Pote ...