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Bodycam Tapes Show Bravery of Jersey City Cops, Fulop says


Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said police bodycam footage from the scene of the horrific Dec. 10, 2019, shooting at the Jersey City Kosher Supermarket at 224 Martin Luther King Drive showed that his city’s cops went above and beyond in exposing themselves to possible harm.

At a brief press conference held Friday, Feb. 21, directly across the street from the still-shuttered shop, Fulop, accompanied by Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea, said the newly released tapes “only reinforce a lot of what we said in the days after the Dec. 10 incident … that we are exceptionally proud of how police officers ran toward danger and how they communicated with each other.”

The attack on the market by two radicalized anti-Semitic shooters identified as David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50, ended with both assailants dead along with the shop’s co-owner, Mindy Ferencz, 33; an employee, Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, 49; and a customer and rabbinical student Moshe Deutsch, 24. Police said Jersey City Det. Joseph Seals, 39, was shot dead by Anderson and Graham a short time earlier in Bayview Cemetery.

Two other Jersey City police officers – Ray Sanchez and Mariela Fernandez – were wounded during the multi-hour gun battle. Shea said on Friday that Sanchez had elected to delay surgery to repair his shoulder wound so he could attend Seals’ funeral. He has since had the procedure, Shea said. Fernandez suffered an injury to her right hand, according to Shea.

Fulop made his remarks to a phalanx of local and out-of-town news crews the morning after the state attorney general’s office released a total of seven videos (as reported by several TV news media outlets) taken from police bodycams at the shooting scene.

Asked by a reporter if the city felt “blindsided” by the attorney general’s decision to make the video available for public consumption, Fulop replied, “We were a little blindsided, I don’t want to mince words,” but added: “We do feel that’s their prerogative. It’s important to be transparent.”

The mayor said he received an email the night prior from the attorney general’s office advising the city about the tapes.  He also said the city learned that the victims’ families were notified prior to the tapes’ going out.

Elaborating, Shea said the city “confirmed (the families) were spoken to, and they were comfortable with the release.”

In any case, Fulop observed, “We couldn’t be more proud” of the way Jersey City police officers reacted to the threats to public safety.

In an interview with a TV newsman, Shea said an examination of the images captured by the bodycams made him feel “very confident that all of our officers acted heroically.” He said that as more information is released, the department would expect to learn more.

Meanwhile, the mayor said that to ensure the police continue to be in a state of readiness for any similar incidents in the future, the city would continue to invest in active shooter training, some of which will be carried out this year.

Excerpts from some of the footage broadcast recently by New York-based TV news stations show a man and woman emerging from a van parked along Martin Luther King Drive, carrying long guns aimed at the market and striding inside.

Other images depict a police officer ensconced inside an upper-floor classroom at Sacred Heart School, located across the street from the market, firing multiple rounds from a handgun aimed at the shop. The officer, speaking into a communication device, identifies his shots as friendly fire.

In an audio portion of one of the tapes, a police officer can be heard shouting in an apparent reference to one of the attackers: “I think he’s down. … No, he’s still moving. Behind the wood! Behind the wood!”

Various collections have been set up on behalf of the victims, and the City of Jersey City announced that it would help pay off the mortgage on the Seals family home in North Arlington.

Header:  Mayor Fulop and Public Safety Director Shea courtesy City of Jersey City video.

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Joan Terrell-Paige Should Resign


Joan Terrell, courtesy Jersey City Board of Education website

Nothing could be sadder than the firestorm unleashed by an incendiary Facebook post from board of education member Joan Terrell-Paige following last week’s killings at a kosher market in Greenville. Governor Murphy and Mayor Fulop have called for Ms. Terrell-Paige’s resignation. Because Ms. Paige has refused to apologize for and disavow the post’s contents, we must join in that call.

Ms. Terrell-Paige’s now deleted post was rambling and lengthy. But, if you haven’t read it, here’s how it begins:

“Where was all this faith and hope when Black homeowners were threatened, intimidated and harassed by I WANT TO BUY YOUR HOUSE brutes of the jewish [sic] community?”

Ms. Terrell-Paige goes on to blame Jews for a litany of misdeeds including threatening to bring drug dealers and prostitutes to Jersey City, evicting blacks from Jewish-owned buildings, producing and funding a one-million-dollar ad campaign designed to bring Jews to Jersey City, ending the “Friends of Lifers” and “Second Chance” programs, and destroying community gardens in black neighborhoods. She offers no evidence for any of these claims. She goes on to suggest that Jews should be blamed for the crimes of convicted fraudster Solomon Dwek and the infamous sale of body parts by six rabbis.

Ms. Terrell-Paige concludes by asking whether the perpetrators of last week’s kosher market attack might have had something meaningful to tell us in their decision to kill a police officer and three civilians.

“Mr. Anderson and Ms. Graham went directly to the kosher supermarket.I believe they knew they would come out in body bags.  What is the message they were sending?”

One can assume that Ms. Terrell Paige believes that correct answers would be “they deserved it” or “they brought it on themselves.”

Asked by Politico whether she regrets the post, Ms. Terrell-Page said, “no.”

As an African-American who knows first hand the devastating effects of racism, Ms. Terrell-Paige should have been wiser; she should have known that her stereotyping of Jews is no different than the stereotyping of her own community: cruel, dehumanizing and ultimately dangerous. In a recent article in The Atlantic describing the use of propaganda to ready his society for genocide, Kennedy Ndahiro, the editor of the Rwandan newspaper The New Times, wrote:

“Today, the leaders of powerful nations use dehumanizing language in describing certain groups of people. In mass-shooting incidents, people die because someone has deemed them subhuman on account of their race or religion.”

Such dehumanizing language has been used for centuries against African Americans, Jews, Tutsis, Armenians, Muslims and Catholics, just to name a few. Always, racists use the deeds of a few bad actors to justify their hate of the larger group to which they belong. One need only survey the history of the 20th Century to know the terrible results of scapegoating.

Ms. Terrell-Paige can’t be blamed for her anger. The injustices visited on the black community are shameful and long standing, and her concern about the changes that a new and insular group of settlers might bring to her community is entirely legitimate. But she can and should be blamed for falling victim to the very same prejudice that so hurts her own community. As an educator, she has an obligation to educate. This could have been for her a “teachable moment,” one where she brought people together to fight the scourge of prejudice. Instead she gave a lesson in hate. Moreover, when given the opportunity, she refused to retract her poisonous tirade and acknowledge the pain she had caused another minority, one that has suffered too. Such a person has no place on the board of education.

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Jersey City Weeps for Detective Joseph Seals


This story originally appeared on ThePauwWow.org, the student newspaper of Saint Peter’s University.

http://www.thepauwwow.org/news/jersey-city-weeps-for-detective-joseph-seals/article_f13aa3fa-2123-11ea-9beb-338a7e807750.html

On Dec. 17, St. Aedan’s Church on Bergen Avenue was filled to the brim with family members, friends and police units to mourn Detective Joseph Seals, who was slain in the line of duty on Dec. 10.

Presided over by Cardinal Joseph Tobin from the Archdiocese of Newark, the funeral was attended by U.S. Attorney General William Barr, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, among other civic and religious leaders from all denominations from around the country.

Photo by Daniel Levin

The weather, which was cold and rainy, reflected the solemn sentiment on the inside of the church. Blue and black ribbons lined the pews, and Seals’ casket, which was brought from McLaughlin Funeral Home in a police-escorted procession, was adorned with an American flag.

Throughout the service, Seals’ honorable character was consistently brought up. The eulogizers praised his work as a police detective who worked to remove guns from the streets of Jersey City and who loved his job and the city that he served; they noted that he died a hero far too soon.

Seals, 40, was killed on Dec. 10 in a confrontation that began in the Bay View Cemetery in the Greenville section of Jersey City and that led to the deaths of five others, including the two assailants that killed him. Officials are now labeling the crime an anti-Semitic attack on the kosher grocery store.

In McGinley Square Pub on Montgomery Street, Angelo Hatziptrou stands by the belief that the violent incident does not represent Jersey City as a whole.

“Shootings can happen anywhere,” he said behind the bar of the pub he’s owned for five years.

Despite the rain, which did not let up at all during the service, bystanders stood behind the barricades to watch the funeral procession and wait until the casket left the church.

Due to the procession, streets such as Bergen Avenue were closed to accommodate the throngs of civilians and police officers in attendance.

“I think it’s going to affect the community in a large way, I think it’s going to affect the country in a large way,” said Haytham Elgawly, owner of The ClearPort clothing store in McGinley Square.  “I think it’s going to influence us bigger than what we think, but time and patience, see how it changes us.” Elgawly has lived in Jersey City his entire life.

On Friday, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a charity whose mission is to assist firefighters, police officers, and members of the military who have sustained critical injuries or lost their lives while serving their country, announced that they would pay off Seals’ mortgage. An official GoFundMe campaign for Seals’ family has raised $575,000 as of Dec. 17.

Seals leaves behind his wife, Laura and five children.

 

Adrienne Romero, Neidy Gutierrez, Victoria Bishop-Smith and Diana Paredes contributed reporting.

Header: Photo by Alexandra Antonucci

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