Jersey City Board of Education Vice President John Reichart is being called out by the Jersey City United BOE slate, who are seeking election on November 8, for posting a “racially divisive image” on Facebook.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“We condemn this racially divisive image. We will not pit blue against black. Instead, we promise to serve and respect every single one of Jersey City’s diverse communities,” Jersey City United said this morning in a joint statement.
The post, which has since been deleted, included a photoshopped image of embattled NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick into the scene where Linden police detained the New York and New Jersey bomb suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami on Monday. The caption above the photo read “Turds!”
Kaepernick, who led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in four years ago, has come under fire for kneeling during the national anthem, claiming he will not salute a flag that stands for a country that “oppresses black people” (h/t NFL.com).
Meanwhile, Rahami is charged for making explosives devices that were planted in Manhattan, Seaside Park and Elizabeth then having a shootout with police in Linden before being captured on Monday.
The BOE ticket, which consists of Matt Schapiro, Luis Felipe Fernandez and Asmaa Abdalla, also asked for an immediate apology from Reichart, as well as for Mayor Steven Fulop and the Jersey City Education Association (JCEA) – who both endorsed Reichart last year – to condemn the Facebook post.
Only four candidates sought three, three-year terms on the board in 2015. The other candidate was Gina Verdibello, who has the support of the teacher’s union and mayor this year and is on the latest incarnation of the Education Matters team.
“Finally, we ask that Mr. Reichart answer this simple question: How can he serve our children if he divides our city, if he pits us against each other on the basis of race or political belief?”
Reichart said he deleted the post not because of Jersey City United, but because “someone I care deeply about” found it offensive. A retired NJ Transit cop, Reichart added that patriotism is a subject that is near and dear to his hear.
“I was at at ground zero, I watched the buildings fall, my face was dirty with the soot from the collapsed buildings. My perspective on patriotism, police/community relations and a number of different topics, is likely much different than that of this group, or any group of candidates,” he said in an email.
“I don’t think they are overreacting, but I think they should focus on their opponents, respect my view and right to call Kaepernick a turd, just like I respect their right to question me and his right to take a knee.”
Unexpectedly, Reichart concluded by stating he personally supports Schapiro’s candidacy, wishing Fernandez and Abdalla good luck as well.
Finally, Jersey City United spokesman RJ Harper commended Reichart for owning up to the post and invited him to join their ongoing dialogue with the community.
“Jersey City United is glad we were able to help Vice President Reichart recognize the offensiveness of his Facebook post. We further encourage him to engage in dialogue with us and members of the community to bridge differences affecting our schools and neighborhoods.”
Spokeswomen from the mayor’s office and the JCEA did not immediately return emails seeking comment.