The Bayonne Board of Education passed a resolution condemning, as well as distancing the other trustees, from Trustee Michael Alonso’s comments about George Floyd protests this weekend – with some calling for his immediate resignation.
By Corey McDonald/Hudson County View
The hour-long meeting was a blistering and damning rebuke of Alonso’s standing as an elected trustee.
The resolution, and the comments made by his colleagues during the meeting, were about as far as elected board officials could go in denouncing Alonso.
Board President Maria Valado at one point suggested that the more ethics complaints filed by Bayonne residents against Alonso, the more resonant a message to the state ethics commission would be.
“I will not longer call him trustee: I think he has lost the privilege to be called a trustee,” Board Vice President Christopher Munoz exclaimed.
“Not only do I vote yes as a trustee on this resolution, but as a parent, a taxpayer, and as an educator, I am not asking, I am demanding his resignation.”
Alonso, who was elected to the board for a three-year term in November 2017, posted on Facebook Sunday night asking “Where will the Bayonne Riot Start? Walmart — QuickChek — ShopRite?” — in response to the nation-wide protests sparked by the murder of Minneapolis man George Floyd.
Another showed a caricature of presidential candidate Joe Biden (D) changing the “Black Lives Matter” logo to “Black Votes Matter,” with Biden saying he “fixed it.”
He faced swift backlash on social media, most notably accusations that he was purposefully trying to incite violence in the community.
“I pity him for what he believes,” said Bayonne Education Association President Gene Woods. “Somewhere along the line he was misguided and needs to be reeducated. That’s what I believe.”
Woods, on behalf of the union, later said that the teachers’ union “condemn(s)… his very inappropriate comments” and suggested that he violated the boards policy of social network usage.
“From all of his actions it is clear he does not represent the best interest of our students, our community, nor our staff. We find Mr Alonso’s post extremely hostile … unethical, and completely racist. We are calling for his immediate resignation.”
Alonso did not attend today’s meeting, which was still held in person and everyone who attended wore a face mask.
In a lengthy text message, Alonso defended his posts, which he previously noted were on his personal Facebook page – not his BOE trustee page – saying they were about “Bayonne’s economic viability” before expressing his support of President Donald Trump (R).
“I am totally in support of the President of the United States. I stand side by side with President Trump. I am an advocate of peaceful protest, but rioting and looting should not be tolerated,” he said.
“No one is thinking about keeping our kids safe. They are just thinking about [their] re-election. We should all protest together, the board; the kids, teachers, parents, the police and the mayor!”
Alonso has been a divisive and controversial force on the board since taking his seat
Last year, he effectively halted the board’s efforts to hire a permanent superintendent in June (and a business administrator in August) — stonewalling the process entirely.
Before his tenure on the board, Alonso was a frequent candidate for many governmental positions at the county and local level.
Additionally, he has also been a vocal opponent against the building of an Islamic community center on the east side of the city, which was originally denied by the city zoning board and then overturned after a lawsuit was filed against the city.
He was later named in the lawsuit against the city for citing the Orlando night club massacre in 2016 as reason to oppose the mosque.
“It’s definitely not the right time, with everything that’s happening recently and all over the world,” he told ABC7. “We have ISIS. We have Christians being beheaded. We have the LGBT community being targeted. This is just not the right time.”
Alonso, a Republican, is running for re-election in November.
Follow Corey McDonald on Twitter @cwmcdonald_