MONTVILLE, NJ – Although approximately 50 people attended the May 8 Montville Township Committee meeting, only two speakers came to the microphone during the public portion to address Committee Member June Witty regarding her recent Facebook post, whereas at past meetings, dozens did so.
In the two committee meetings since the incident, Mayor Richard Conklin had made a statement before the public portion, and had asked Witty if she wished to make a statement also, which she did. Neither action occurred at this meeting.
First to the microphone was First Vice President of the Pine Brook Jewish Center Barry Marks, who said, “On behalf of Evan Zuckerman [President], and the board of directors of the Pine Brook Jewish Center, I would like to thank you, June, for accepting our invitation to speak with our leadership last week. While we are still disheartened about the events that transpired in our community, we are encouraged by your acknowledgement of wrongdoing and your desire to make amends to our community and the greater Montville community as a whole. We listened intently to your ideas about how to help educate the general public and about what the Nazi symbol stood for and the harm it caused to society. We are hopeful that you can effectuate the programmatic goals that you spoke about with us, here at the township level. We are also looking forward to working with you to help turn the tide on the hateful political rhetoric that has taken this country by storm. We, as community members and leaders of the Jewish community of Montville will help you in any way possible to turn this unfortunate event into a teaching moment for our entire community. As Evan Zuckerman mentioned at the last town meeting, we, as people and Jews, have said ‘never forget about the Holocaust.’ We also will not forget what you promised us last week and we will ensure that you live up to your promises throughout your tenure on the Montville Township Committee.”
Witty thanked Marks.
The second speaker, Pradipto Bagchi, referenced an article from the “New Jersey Jewish News,” in which Witty states she was watching a video of Nation of Islam leader Rev. Louis Farrakhan making “hateful remarks.” Witty is quoted as saying that Farrakhan blamed many things on Jews, including global warming, so she decided to post the chart onto her Facebook page to show the “hypocrisy of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Keith Ellison, a Muslim Democrat from Illinois, who have really embraced Farrakhan,” the NJ Jewish News quotes Witty as saying.
Bagchi said, “I have spoken in front of this committee the last two times and I have addressed the committee directly, but Ms. Witty, I have not addressed you.”
Bagchi said it matters what a person sitting [at the dais] says.
“Though my view is very clear that you should resign, the view that you proffered was that you should be judged on how you do after that and how you make amends for what you did. So I was very disappointed when I read in the press, and I am assuming it’s true news not fake news, that in reference to why you did what you did, you were upset at something Louis Farrakhan said and you were upset at the hypocrisy of Nancy Pelosi, which is fine, and the hypocrisy of Muslim Democrat … I forget his name. That surprised me. You didn’t say ‘Catholic Democrat Nancy Pelosi.’”
Witty responded, “That was added by the writer. I said ‘the head of the DNC, Keith Ellison.’”
Bagchi encouraged Witty to reach out to the writer to clarify her words, stating, “that clarification would be extremely important.”
Witty thanked Bagchi.
With no other members of the public wishing to speak, Conklin closed the public portion.
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