Bayonne Assemblyman Nick Chiaravalloti (D-31) is calling on local, county, and state law enforcement to investigate a Facebook post that appears to “endorse lynching.”
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“I woke up this morning to words and images of hate posted on a private Facebook page which I am not a member. The page supposedly represents views from my community – Bayonne. It does not!,” Chiaravalloti wrote on Facebook this morning.
“Just because we live in the most diverse region of our country does not mean that we are protected against bigots and racist. The idea that someone thinks it is ok to post images of a man hanging from a tree and others endorse lynchings sickens me. There is no place in our society for such hatred.”
The post in question, which was publicized by Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition Movement Executive Director Pamela Johnson shortly before it was deleted late last night, depicted a graphic of a man being hung from a tree that said “Time to Bring this back,” with a sub-caption that read “we need to start doing this again.”
“#BlackLivesMatter You want us on a noose…..BE VERY CAREFUL!!!,” Johnson wrote, with her post garnering over 100 comments – almost all of which expressed shock and disappointment with the image.
The post was made by Scott Guzzi in the Facebook group Bayonne Talks Freely, a generally Republican-leaning page. The deleted post he commented on was critical of the Portland protests.
Guzzi later claimed in a subsequent post on the same page that he had been hacked.
Furthermore, Bayonne Talks Freely is run by Tony Zanowic: a former candidate for Congress, state assembly, and mayor who commented on Chiravalloti’s post that he took down the offensive thread in question as soon as he saw it.
Chiaravalloti has also called for the conservative page to be removed from Facebook, indicating that he had reported it, exclaiming that he was so “pissed off” it was difficult to articulate his thoughts on the matter.
“I believe the image was intended to incite violence and believe those involved should be investigated,” he concluded.
HCPO spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill said that the Bayonne police have launched an investigation.
“We are aware of this matter and have been in communication with the Bayonne Police Department as they are handling the investigation at this time,” she said.
This afternoon, Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis thanked the local police and the HCPO for following up on this matter, emphasizing that Bayonne opposes racist threats.
“The people who are allegedly involved with this online posting are a very small group that does not represent the Bayonne community. The City of Bayonne is adamantly opposed to racist threats and images.”
Furthermore, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, Chiaravalloti’s legislative running mate, also denounced racist and/or hateful actions.
“There is no place in this district or in this world for this type of racist, hateful behavior. This type of language and attitude is reminiscent of a hurtful past that my ancestors had to overcome and it pains me as an African American woman that people in my district would be so cruel as to post pictures of lynching and make such hateful comments.”
That was shortly followed by Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who tweeted that hate and bigotry have no place in Bayonne or anywhere else in New Jersey.
“Hate and bigotry have NO HOME in Bayonne or anywhere in New Jersey. I stand with @AswMcKnight in condemning the racist and abhorrent comments on this Facebook page and encourage reporting of any threats of violence,” the governor wrote.
A spokesman for the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.