ELIZABETH, NJ — The Union County Freeholders held their regular meeting Thursday night and a special resolution was introduced to recognize and commend Westfield couple Valerie Latona and David Contract for creating their "Wall of Love."
Chairman Bruce Bergen and Vice Chairman Sergio Granados made the presentation.
Latona then took the microphone and addressed the crowd, stating that their diverse community could be unified and brought together with love.
Latona had posted her first “love trumps hate” sign before the Presidential election, and it was vandalized. Her family put up a second one, a banner, that would be harder to steal or deface.
“We felt very strongly, given so much hate that was displayed throughout this past election, that we wanted to make a stand about values, not candidates," she said in December.
By Valentine's Day, there was a "Wall of Love" where people could write and hang messages on paper hearts. The signs, Latona said in a letter to the editor, became "surrounded by almost 300 hearts designed by residents of Westfield and surrounding towns."
After the hearts were placed on the fence, Latona said the town's zoning official told her the "wall of love" violated a zoning ordinance and the display would have to be taken down. It remains, and Latona and Contract said that they would replace the "love trumps hate" sign with something else "in the spirit of bringing our community together."
Latona said that the hearts were about love and respect, and that her family's goal was to "express our values and find a common ground for people at a time when there is, and has been, so much hatred and divisiveness."