Somerset County News

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

Dr. Tulsi Maharjan, wearing sunglasses, with members of the Somerset County Cultural Diversity Coalition, speaks at Monday's rally in Somerville. Credits: Rod Hirsch
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
Somerville Mayor Brian Gallagher addresses the rally from the steps of the historic Somerset County Courthouse in Somerville. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Part of the crowd at Monday night's Community for Unity rally in Somerville. Credits: Rod Hirsch
Rev. Ron Pollock, pastor of St. John's Episcopal Church in Somerville, offers a prayer during Monday's rally. Credits: Rod Hirsch
New Jersey Rep. Leonard Lance, R-7th Credits: Rod Hirsch
State Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, D-16th Credits: Rod Hirsch
Heba Macksoud, board member of the Islamic Society of Central New Jersey addresses the Somerville rally. Credits: Rod Hirsch
State Sen. Raymond "Kip" Bateman (R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Mercer). Credits: Rod Hirsch
Rev. Paul Janssen, pastor of the United Reformed Church in Somerville addresses the rally in Somerville Monday night. Credits: Rod Hirsch

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:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


UPDATE: Four’Easter May Bring Another Foot of Snow, Be Prepared for School Closures and Power Outages in Warren Township and Surrounding Area

March 20, 2018

WARREN, NJ - Happy Spring. Get the milk, bread and eggs. Get the generator, gas and chainsaw and be prepared to lose another day of spring break if Wednesday is called a snow day. Heavy mixed precipitation is expected with snow accumulations of 8 to 14 inches in our area by Wednesday evening when the fourth Nor’easter of the year hits. #foureaster is trending, and Winter does ...

Warren Township to Collect Winter Storm Quinn Tree Debris

WARREN, NJ - The Department of Public Works of Warren Township will be collecting tree and brush debris from all Warren Township residents in the aftermath of Winter Storm Quinn.

Due to the intense effects of Storm Quinn that impacted Warren Township on March 7, the Township Committee has authorized and directed the DPW to. begin the collection process ...

Somerset County Opens Emergency Shelter for Storm Victims at RVCC

BRANCHBURG, NJ – Due to the extended power outages in Somerset County as a result of Winter Storm Quinn and the expected cold temperatures over the next few days, the Somerset County Office of Emergency Management has partnered with the American Red Cross to open a shelter for county residents at Raritan Valley Community College.

The shelter opened as of 5:30 p.m. Saturday, ...

Update from Warren Office of Emergency Management on Saturday, Mar. 10

WARREN, NJ - The Warren Township Office of Emergency Management has provided a timeline and Jane Asch at Warren’s Office of Emergency Management has updated storm recovery information as of 1 p.m. Saturday, March 10 with the following:



The most pressing issue is restoration of power. It may be helpful to understand the triage system both JCP&L and ...

JCP&L Update: Preparing for the Storm

March 21, 2018


With predictions of more than a foot of heavy, wet snow and wind gusts up to 45 mph, JCP&L is prepared for the storm. We have implemented storm and staffing plans and are ready to respond appropriately should this next wave of severe weather cause power outages. 

What we’ve done to prepare: 

Secured mutual assistance ...

Wellness of Warren Holds Open House

WARREN, NJ: - Wellness of Warren is hosting an Open House on Tuesday, March 27 from 6 to 8 pm.  This unique group of offices is located 112 Town Center Drive in Warren, New Jersey.

Come and enjoy the evening with like-minded wellness professionals. Visit the Wellness of Warren office space (fractional offices space available) that provides an array of holistic and natural wellness ...


South Plainfield – Joanne Gallo, 68, of Palm Beach Gardens, FL and Warren, NJ, passed away ...
Read more

AAA Cautions: Daylight Saving Could Affect Daily Commute

March 10, 2018

WARREN, NJ - AAA is reminding drivers that the change to Daylight Saving Time may create distractions on the roadway and challenges for drivers who lost an hour of sleep. Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday at 2 a.m.

“As we spring forward, drivers should be aware that the time change will also mean changes to driving habits,” said Robert Sinclair, Manager of Media ...

School Bus Driver Charged with Sex Assaults Against Students

March 20, 2018

MONTGOMERY, NJ – An 84-year-old township resident has been arrested and charged with sexual assault against an 8-and 12-year-old and as many as seven other children while a bus driver going back to the 1960s, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

Edward Atoeff of Cherry Valley Road was the owner and operator of Jastyke Transportation at the time of the alleged ...

Whole Foods Delays Opening Due to Predicted Storm

BRIDGEWATER, NJ — Whole Foods, in the new Chimney Rock Plaza in Bridgewater, is officially opening its doors on Friday, March 23.

It was originally scheduled to open March 21, but the opening was delayed because of the predicted nor'easter.

The Bridgewater location is the first Whole Foods in Somerset County. 

The 49,000-square-foot store is featuring ...

UPDATE: Four’Easter May Bring Another Foot of Snow, Be Prepared for School Closures and Power Outages in Warren Township and Surrounding Area

WARREN, NJ - Happy Spring. Get the milk, bread and eggs. Get the generator, gas and chainsaw and be prepared to lose another day of spring break if Wednesday is called a snow day. Heavy mixed precipitation is expected with snow accumulations of 8 to 14 inches in our area by Wednesday evening when the fourth Nor’easter of the year hits. #foureaster is trending, and Winter does ...

Suspended HS Athletic Director Charged with Theft

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - Suspended Hillsborough High School Athletic Director Michael Fanizzi has been arrested and charged with the theft of $10,704 in athletic event receipts over a four-year period from 2013-2017, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

Fanizzi, 53, a resident of Conover Way in Hillsborough who had been athletics director for 14 years, had been ...

The Perfect Travel Pack - The Airport Repack Because of a Delayed Flight - What You Really Need

March 21, 2018

If you have traveled a lot, you have had a canceled flight.  Do you know how to do an airport in such cases?

Well, on a recent canceled flight on Norwegian Air from Berlin to New York, we had to do it.  Our experience is now your gain.

The slide show above shows you step by step, how it was accomplished.  Here we will explain it.

For starters, think about your ...

Air Travel Alert - 1,810 Area Flights Canceled for Wednesday - Check Here For Survival Tips in this Fourth Nor’easter

Whenever there is inclement weather, it pays to keep informed. Wednesday, March 21, 780 flights from Newark and 440 from JFK are already canceled.  LaGuardia canceled 590.  In other words, you are probably snowed in today.

Most Airlines now offer APP, text, or email updates to flight delays.  Make sure to sign up for them.  That will ...

Will Your Air Travels Be Impacted by Our Fourth Nor’easter (Fourth? Is it the End?)

After three Nor’easters, you would think we could catch a break. They do say the fourth one is always the best.  This time, we should be very well practiced.

By now, you know the drill. This article has advice on local and airline support services. You may want to bookmark the page for future reference. 

Most Airlines now offer APP, text, or email updates to flight ...

St. Patrick’s Day Sobriety Check in Belmar/Neptune Area on Tap by State Police

March 17, 2018

BELMAR, NJ — Giving no details on location and time, New Jersey State Police plans to conduct a sobriety checkpoint on Saturday, March 17 in the area of Belmar and Neptune Township,

The state police made the announcement on its Facebook page, alerting motorists that state troopers will be pulling over vehicles at this undisclosed location and time  “looking for signs of ...

'Trying' explores age, youth and points of history in poignant production

‘Trying’ explores youth, age and points of history in poignant production

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The George Street Playhouse presents an engrossing, two-character play based on the real life of Francis Biddle, former Attorney General.

Biddle, a Harvard educated lawyer, served under Franklin Roosevelt and later Harry Truman during the Nuremberg Tribunal. His ...