LETTER: Jersey City shooting shows it’s again time to talk about a tale of two cities

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In a letter to the editor, former Greenville resident Abraham Lopez says Tuesday’s horrific slayings in Jersey City shows that it’s again time to talk about a tale of two cities that most people ignore.

Photo courtesy of Abraham Lopez.

Dear Editor,

Much has been written and said about the tragic events that unfolded some 96 hours ago. There has been some debate about the shooters’ motives and whether this was a planned and coordinated attack at the hands of the now deceased career criminals.

A couple of things are certain and not debatable.   An act of murder is by its very nature, an act of hate. The shooters had deeply held anti-Semitic and anti-law enforcement views. This unquestionably was a hate-filled attack.

What’s more, harboring anti-Semitic views and targeting a Kosher supermarket with guns blazing is certainly an anti-Semitic act of terrorism.

An important piece of the conversation, however, is missing.

Anyone who lives or has lived in Greenville knows that there are far too many politicians and journalists who would much rather ignore the “tale of two cities,” that is, the City of Jersey City and the Greenville community.

I was raised in Greenville, graduated from the community’s public schools, and still have family within the vicinity of the shooting.

My cousin also gave his life in sacrifice trying to make a difference in the community as a police officer educated by the life lessons learned on those Greenville streets.

Despite generations of relatives living in and moving on from Greenville, not much has changed over the years.

While many are focused their attention on the hate-crime that has occurred, and understandably so, Greenville’s rampant crime and quality of life issues and the failure of elected officials to address them is a serious problem that cannot be overlooked and must be addressed.

These problems are made worse by racist criminals like the now deceased shooters who were a menace to Greenville residents and are suspects in the murder of my childhood friend Michael Rumberger. That’s right! They were already under investigation for committing a murder.

Is there an Anti-Semitic problem in America and all around the world?  You better believe it.  Does that ignorance-fueled hatred against Jews exist in Jersey City. Yes.

There are some members of the community that are seeing the arrival of the new Satmar neighbors, a Hasidic Orthodox community, in a predominately African American community, with a fear of gentrification.

As documented by Americans Against Anti-Semitism, some locals have even expressed antisemitic views.


But not all locals think the same.  Take Douglas of Catrinas demolition, who out of so much evil gave everyone a glimmer of hope by offering his services free of charge to those affected by the tragedy.


Residents of Greenville are long suffering stepchildren.  They’ve subsidized the lifestyles of the affluent in the city’s wealthier downtown and gold coast (the waterfront) with their ever-increasing property taxes.

They’ve paid some of the city’s highest tax rates while politicians gave away tax abatements for luxury condo developments that literally pay zero in taxes.  Some of those developments received tax abatements lasting as long as 20 years!

Yet, the taxpaying residents of Greenville do not enjoy the same quality of life one enjoys when walking the streets of downtown Jersey City.

 Don’t waste your good energy on making this a downtown verses Greenville issue, as this is squarely a politicians verses Greenville issue.

Despite Mayor Fulop’s best efforts to end subsidies to Gold Coast developers, building the City Hall Annex and a couple of parks, all initiatives meant to attract sorely needed attention to the area, the fact remains; local, state and federal politicians have failed the residents of Greenville.

They’ve promised villas and castles over the years. Mayor Fulop even abandoned his pledge to move to the city’s Ward F area, opting to relocate to the city’s Heights neighborhood instead.

But who is really at fault?  The people are. Because the real power belongs to the people, and we keep squandering it away by electing the same people over and over again, expecting a different result; you know, the very definition of insanity.

Residents of all ethnic and religious backgrounds should unite and demand better.For the sake of the community I love, I hope that they do.

Our hearts go out to the family of Detective Seals, the Jersey City Police Department, the innocent civilian victims of Jewish and Hispanic ancestry whose lives were robbed from their families in a hate filled act of terror.

I join in prayer for the injured police officers and their brothers and sisters who ran into the breach, all risking their lives in service to the community.

Jersey City’s people are resilient and will recover, united in their love of their city and neighbors.

 

Abraham Lopez is a former Greenville resident, graduate of P.S. #40 and New Jersey City University.  He previously served as New Jersey’s Director of Hispanic, Faith-based and Jewish Affairs in the Office of the Governor, and as Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State.