Montclair, NJ - Montclair 3rd Ward Councilor Sean Spiller released the following statement calling for an apology from James Harris after remarks made at a December 30th community meeting.
According to published reports, Harris has issued an apology and has invited anyone to meet with him to discuss. TAP staff has reached out to Harris to obtain a statement and there has not yet been a response, at the time of publication. As details emerge, updates will be provided.
Following the meeting hosted by Councilwoman Renee Baskerville on Monday, with nearly a hundred people in attendance, New Jersey Association of Black Educators President James Harris, who also serves as the Montclair NAACP Education Chair, was rebuked by Rabbi David Greenstein after making remarks about Hasidic Jews.
On Friday, Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill had also called for Harris to apologize for his remarks. Mayor Robert Jackson, who was also in attendance, has since announced plans to gather the African-American and Jewish community within the next 48 hours to discuss. A meeting with clergy took place on Monday, Jan. 6.
Spiller said the following in a release:
"Montclair is more than a place--it's an ideal. Montclair serves as a beacon of progressivism, hope, acceptance, and diversity. We are a community that not only welcomes people of all faiths, backgrounds, races, and creeds, but we are also deeply committed to standing up against injustice and bigotry.
Preserving the Montclair ideal--what we stand for--takes commitment. Last week, intolerance reared its head at a community meeting in Montclair, when Mr. James Harris made divisive and anti-Semitic comments. While I was not in attendance at the meeting, the comments are nonetheless dangerous and hurtful not only to our Jewish brothers and sisters, but to our community as a whole.
Mr. Harris should apologize for his remarks, but we must go beyond apologies. We must go further and work harder to foster understanding, tolerance, and to promote healing. To that end, I look forward to attending a meeting later today, called by Mayor Jackson between faith leaders in the African-American and Jewish communities in Montclair to begin the process of healing. I sincerely hope and believe that Mr. Harris can and will be a part of that healing process.
We must continue to be vigilant and thoughtful in defending the Montclair ideal. That means having difficult conversations but always doing so respectfully. When we stand together, we are stronger."