ROSELLE PARK, NJ – As a big crowd watched, the Roselle Borough Council last night decided that it would not remove from town property a display showing a veteran kneeling by a Christian cross.
Gregory Storey, the husband of Councilwoman Charlene Storey, spoke first giving his views against the wooded silhouette being placed at the library. Others, including veterans, took their turn speaking their disapproval of what the humanist group was claiming, and in support of the mayor and requesting that it stay. One resident went into detail of the history of grave markers and explained to the council that this was not meant as a religious sign but was in fact a “grave marker” for soldiers to know who was buried at each spot.
Before the public portion ended, the Democratic Chairman Dan Petrosky spoke to the council and the audience and announced to the surprise of many, that the democratic committee had voted a few days before and approved to remove Councilwoman Storey and her husband from the democratic committee. Councilwoman Storey’s response to Petrosky was to ask about the cross that he was wearing around his neck.
Mayor Hokanson and Councilwoman Storey recused themselves from the vote that resulted in 3 to 2 in favor of accepting the Mayors gift and letting the wooden silhouette stay. Councilmen Joseph Petrosky, Eugene Meola, and Gino Elmarassy voted in favor of the statue while Councilmen Thomas (Thos) Shipley and Ryan Kelly voted against it.
Friday morning the humanist group responded to the prior evenings vote. “By voting in favor of this religious display and ignoring the objections of local residents, the Borough of Roselle Park and the mayor are making litigation inevitable,” said Monica Miller, senior counsel of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “The Christian symbolism of the memorial and its placement on public property give the impression of government favoritism toward religion, in violation of the First Amendment.”