Religions and Spirituality

South Brunswick BOE Member Joins U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman On District Panel in Franklin Township

400dbc2027a20b9a9089_20160926_140712.jpg
Credits: File photo
400dbc2027a20b9a9089_20160926_140712.jpg

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – Board of Education member and community activist Azra Baig joined U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-12, during a forum Saturday relating to the recent election and how it impacts local communities.

The 12 Town Hall forum was hosted at the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset and featured veteran pollster Cornell Belcher and CNN analyst Angela Rye along with local leaders including Baig, Trenton Mayor Eric Johnson and Logan Township Mayor Frank Minor.

In the first panel, Belcher and Rye discussed the results of the race and explored possibilities that led to the surprising win for billionaire Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Sign Up for E-News

Later, local leaders discussed the implications of the victory for Democrats and minorities at the local level.

During this part of the panel, Baig related her story of racist vandalism to several of her campaign signs as she ran for a second term on the board, which she won.

In a press release Nov. 9, the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) asked state and federal law enforcement to investigate graffiti left on several of her election lawn signs during the recent campaign.

Several lawn signs for Baig near South Brunswick High School on Ridge Road were vandalized between Sept. 26 and Oct. 21 while she ran for office.

Graffiti with slogans such as “ISIS sympathizer,” “ISIS” and “rag head,” were discovered on the signs during that time.

Baig said she immediately reported the incident to local police who said they are continuing to investigate the vandalism.

“This kind of hate speech serves to reinforce negative stereotypes and cast a shadow of suspicion and doubt over all Muslims”, CAIR-NJ Executive Director James Sues said in the November release. “We urge state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate this incident as a possible hate crime.”

The incidents come during one of the most divisive and charged presidential election cycles in modern memory.

Republican Donald Trump, who won the office on Tuesday against Democrat Hillary Clinton, ran a controversial campaign that, among other things, called for a temporary ban on Muslims coming into the country until they can be thoroughly vetted due to terror attack concerns.

Clinton called the “Muslim ban” “Islamophobia” and racist.

“Unfortunately, these past months have seen a level of divisiveness and rancor that should be intolerable for anyone in a civilized society”, Coleman said in that release.  “There is no circumstance where we can be willing to accept the racism, sexism, xenophobia and religious intolerance that has permeated throughout this past election cycle.  Now, more than ever, we need to stand strong as one community and put aside our differences so that we may all do the hard work required to ensure an even brighter tomorrow for our country’s future generation.”

Mayor Frank Gambatese said then that the incidents are not representative of the diverse township.

“I am extremely disappointed in what happened to Ms. Azra Baig’s campaign signs”, Gambatese said.  “We are very proud of Ms. Baig and her service to the community.  This is not who we are in South Brunswick.”

Baig also said that the incidents surprised her and are not the experience she has had living in the community and serving on the board.

“These criminal actions do not represent any part of the wonderful community of South Brunswick, NJ and the warmth and kindness of everyone I have had the pleasure of meeting with” Baig said.  “I am grateful to the community for their support of my re-election and I am grateful for the efforts of the South Brunswick Police Department for their efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Police are still investigating the incidents.

A second panel during the day focused on how people could heal from the contentious race and move forward.

Videos of both full panel discussions are available on Coleman’s Facebook page.

(Editor’s Note: Azra Baig also freelances for TAPinto South Brunswick and Cranbury. We were also made aware of the vandalism early on by Baig, but decided not to publish any report until after the election on Tuesday.)

Did you like this story?

Give us your feedback at ckim@tapinto.net or nwells@tapinto.net and support local news.

If you did like it, please share with your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter, and don't forget to "Like" our Facebook Page!

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Franklin Township

Franklin Township Astronomy Club Will Meet Tonight

July 19, 2018

SOMERSET, NJ - Stop by the Municipal Parking Lot in front of the library on Thursday, July 19, 7:30 PM-9:30 PM. (475 Demott Lane, Franklin Township, NJ).

On View: The Moon, Jupiter, The Hercules Star Cluster, and more!

At trillions of miles away, the stars seem distant, cold, and impersonal, but, something special happens on each clear night. Their light pierces our atmosphere at 300,000 ...

New Brunswick Battles Hunger with Largest Food Pantry Network in County

July 17, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The Rev. Douglas Shepler became pastor of New Brunswick's Second Reformed in April 2008 and by October had a food pantry running that quickly attracted people in need, including Rutgers University students.

“We had graduate students coming to us and they had a choice of paying their rent or paying for food,” Shepler said. However, those students ...

Viewing Date Set for 1-Year-Old Boy Killed in July 7 Crash in Raritan

RARITAN, NJ - A viewing for the 1-year-old Raritan boy killed on Anderson Street July 7 will be held this week at St. Ann Church, in Raritan, according to an obituary released by the Bongiovi Funeral Home.

Matias Ortega-Rosales was killed on the evening of his first birthday when a vehicle hit two cars and then his family as he was being pushed in a stroller by his mother, Domitila Rosales.

South Plainfield Police Investigators Seek Public’s Help in Fatal Crash

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The South Plainfield Police Department and Middlesex County Prosecutors Office are looking for the public’s help in the July 4, 2018 fatal motorcycle accident that killed 28 year-old Jessica Montes of Piscataway.

According to police, the accident occurred at approximately 4:50am as the vehicle Montes was a passenger lost control and crashed on New Brunswick ...

Tee times, Pairings Announced for Start of Next Week’s U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at Baltusrol GC in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – The USGA U.S. Junior Amateur Championship starts Monday.  The pairings for the first two rounds of the 71st edition were recently announced.

Monday (July 16) and Tuesday (July 17) tee times will be played on the 7,280-yard, par-71 Upper Course and at the 7,313-yard, par-70 Lower Course at Baltusrol Golf Club.

Monday, Tuesday tee times & pairings

The ...

Newark Lures Amazon With $1 Billion Payroll Tax Incentive

NEWARK, NJ - Amazon will get a payroll tax break at a cost of $1 billion to the city should the company open its second headquarters here.

It’s one of two ordinances that were approved by the Newark City Council council to sweeten the deal for the corporate giant and stand out among other locations vying for Amazon’s so-called HQ2.

“The City Council has brought Newark a ...

New Restaurant Buys ‘Pocketed’ Westfield Liquor License

WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield’s town council approved the transfer of a liquor license to Westfield Hospitality LLC for its Westfield Fish & Brew Company during the council's meeting Tuesday night. The license had been bought from Jeffrey’s when it closed in 2014 and remained unused, or “pocketed,” by that owner until now.

Though the restaurant does not ...

New Brunswick Battles Hunger with Largest Food Pantry Network in County

July 17, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The Rev. Douglas Shepler became pastor of New Brunswick's Second Reformed in April 2008 and by October had a food pantry running that quickly attracted people in need, including Rutgers University students.

“We had graduate students coming to us and they had a choice of paying their rent or paying for food,” Shepler said. However, those students ...

Viewing Date Set for 1-Year-Old Boy Killed in July 7 Crash in Raritan

RARITAN, NJ - A viewing for the 1-year-old Raritan boy killed on Anderson Street July 7 will be held this week at St. Ann Church, in Raritan, according to an obituary released by the Bongiovi Funeral Home.

Matias Ortega-Rosales was killed on the evening of his first birthday when a vehicle hit two cars and then his family as he was being pushed in a stroller by his mother, Domitila Rosales.

South Plainfield Police Investigators Seek Public’s Help in Fatal Crash

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The South Plainfield Police Department and Middlesex County Prosecutors Office are looking for the public’s help in the July 4, 2018 fatal motorcycle accident that killed 28 year-old Jessica Montes of Piscataway.

According to police, the accident occurred at approximately 4:50am as the vehicle Montes was a passenger lost control and crashed on New Brunswick ...

Somerville: Gallery Hosts Photo Society's 90th Anniversary Exhibit

July 13, 2018

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Arts on Division is presenting “Visions of Raritan Photographic Society – A Celebration of 90 years” from Thursday, July 19 to Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018 at the Gallery on Division, 15B Division Street.

The Raritan Photographic Society, founded in 1929, is the oldest photography club in New Jersey. The exhibit celebrates the organization's 90 years ...

County Kicks Off Summer Concert Series with Bob Miranda and the Happenings

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Somerset County Park Commission kicked off its Summer Concert Series at Duke Island Park Sunday with a performance by Bob Miranda and the Happenings.

A very large crowd turned out for the performance by the band made famous in part by the song "See You in September."

The next concert will be held July 15 at 7 p.m. at Duke Island Park, with Billy ...

"Xtreme" Adventures for Teens in Somerset County

BASKING RIDGE, NJ – The Somerset County Park Commission Environmental Education Center  has scheduled a challenging summer program series for teens 13 to 16.

“Xtreme Adventure” is a summer-long series of one-day outdoor programs that will entertain and educate teen girls and boys. All adventures begin at the Environmental Education Center, 190 Lord Stirling ...

Somerville: Gallery Hosts Photo Society's 90th Anniversary Exhibit

July 13, 2018

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Arts on Division is presenting “Visions of Raritan Photographic Society – A Celebration of 90 years” from Thursday, July 19 to Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018 at the Gallery on Division, 15B Division Street.

The Raritan Photographic Society, founded in 1929, is the oldest photography club in New Jersey. The exhibit celebrates the organization's 90 years ...

County Kicks Off Summer Concert Series with Bob Miranda and the Happenings

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Somerset County Park Commission kicked off its Summer Concert Series at Duke Island Park Sunday with a performance by Bob Miranda and the Happenings.

A very large crowd turned out for the performance by the band made famous in part by the song "See You in September."

The next concert will be held July 15 at 7 p.m. at Duke Island Park, with Billy ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 18

On this week’s AtlantiCast, you’ll find out how accessing care at Atlantic Health System is now easier, more affordable and closer to home than ever, learn which item from the produce aisle could be the newest weapon against cancer, see what Atlantic Health System, the New York Times and Instagram all have in common and much more.