PATERSON, NJ – The Paterson chapter of the NAACP is considering joining a boycott that some residents are organizing against the NJ Pulse monthly newspaper and the online interview show produced by its controversial publisher, Sirrano Keith Baldeo.
The Rev. Kenneth Clayton, president of the city’s NAACP chapter, said he personally supported the boycott being spearheaded by city political activist Ernest Rucker. Clayton called Baldeo’s coverage “mean-spirited, derogatory and negative” and said the local NAACP’s executive board had disusses its displeasure with him last year.
Clayton said he would contact the board members to see if they wanted to join the boycott and he said he expected them to consent because of their past concerns involving Baldeo.
Rucker, who has worked as campaign manager for former councilman Aslon Goow – a frequent target of Baldeo’s barbs - announced the boycott at Tuesday night’s televised City Council meeting. Rucker said that Baldeo had insulted the city’s African-American community, attacked the Paterson Pastor’s Workshop, and disrespected former mayor Martin Barnes’ family members during his wake last month.
When asked for his reaction to the boycott, Baldeo said he was planning to file a lawsuit. He questioned Rucker’s character and said Clayton “has his own demons.’’ Baldeo said Rucker had distorted his Facebook comments regarding slavery and he indicated that Rucker and Goow were going after him because he was going to expose what he said was Goow’s plans to run for state Assembly as a Republican.
Baldeo also said Councilman Andre Sayegh, who was presiding as president at Tuesday’s meeting, conspired with Goow to read the letter out loud at the meeting.
In an email response to PatersonPress.com, Baldeo wrote: “They have been trying to Boycott me, for years, I'm still standing. I am grateful for the publicity It gives me a great opportunity to show people I am fighting for them, to tell them the truth and when you fight evil people, they usually fight back.
“There are more pressing matters facing Paterson,’’ Baldeo continued. “Crimes, loss of jobs, businesses closing down, lack of ratables, folks can't even pay their bills and this is what they come to a council meeting to speak about? Something I said that they twisted and intentionally left out information to slander and have the NAACP attack me. And if they are stupid enough to show up and challenge a colored person, that's me, watch what my reaction would be.”
Baldeo has filed lawsuits and charges against several local officials, including Goow, Sayegh and Board of Education member Jonathan Hodges
Rucker said the boycott effort had nothing to do with his and Goow’s attendance at a recent Republican Party breakfast. He called Baldeo a “demon” who was trying to divert attention from his own actions
"This has nothing to do with me being at a Republican event," said Goow, adding that he has no plans to run for Assembly or any other office as a Republican. "This guy is nothing but reckless and malicious in the way he reports his news. He is a biased journalist. He is not someone who is fair and objective.''
During Tuesday’s meeting, Rucker read what he said was an entry from Baldeo’s Facebook page: “Black History Month Note: States should not have to apologize for slavery and payment for work.”
But Baldeo said those words did not provide the full context of what he had written: “Only the Democratic Party and its members should be apologizing. The State headed by the Republican Party fought against the Democrats to end slavery, segregation and the white supreme race…So let’s hold the Democratic Party responsible for their actions and stop hiding it under the rug…”
At Tuesday’s meeting, Paterson resident Elvis Durham spoke to the council after Rucker called for the boycott. Durham, who is African-American, said he worked for NJ Pulse and he called the boycott misguided. “How about boycotting the businesses that don’t want to hire African-Americans?’’ Durham said. “You want to boycott something? Let’s stick together.’’
Goow also spoke at the meeting, saying council members should not cooperate with Baldeo’s publication because of the way he conducts himself.
PatersonPress.com sought the Rev. Michael McDuffie’s input for this story because of Rucker’s assertions that Baldeo had attacked that organization. McDuffie did not return a message left on the organization’s voice mail on Wednesday.