In an editorial, New Jersey Republican State Committeeman Josh Sotomayor Einstein says that Jersey City activists were beaten up and bullied due to homophobia and local leadership should speak up about it.
From the brutal assault that resulted in a wired-shut jaw, slurs being yelled on a regular basis, dealing with neighbors who have been convicted of filing false police reports targeting them, being told to stay away from a community garden because there are “women and children there,” and having blood forcibly and very likely illegally drawn in by the local police; Glenn Trickle and Fidel Hernandez have experienced and survived it all.
They recently filed a complaint against Militinia, Vera, and Richard Bland and the Jersey City Police Department for a host of crimes.
The big question is what made Trickle and Hernandez, two former restaurateurs and Hudson County activists with a record of helping the community, targets?
The answer is seemingly the simple fact that they are gay and unafraid to stand up to bullying.
Whether being gay is okay, is a question most believe society got over in the 90’s but in a small pocket of Jersey City, in at least the homes of a few of Trickle’s and Glenn’s neighbors, a toxic hatred for gays, a sense of entitlement, and an apparent immunity from consequences rooted in their importance to the local political ecology has created a haven for hate.
The duo’s struggle against anti-gay bigotry began in 2012 when Trickle asked the Bland sisters, Militinia and Vera, who run a neighborhood garden association, how to request a plot and were abruptly told, with no explanation, they could not.
From there in 2013 Trickle, himself a true blue progressive, decided to step up to his party’s political plate and run for Democrat County Committee in his district.
Militinia Bland was on the opposing ticket, he won, she lost, and that’s when the gay bashing, verbal and literal, skyrocketed.
Perhaps it was that the Bland sisters were shocked that less of their neighborhood approved of their seemingly total control of the neighborhood garden and neighborhood association.
Maybe it was because Trickle and Hernandez had and continue to have no reservations about living their life out loud and proud.
In either case, Trickle and Hernandez, who brought food for first responders rallying at Exchange Place during 9/11; cooked for free from their then restaurant for dozens displaced by Hurricane Sandy and living in a shelter; distributed food for the community in the Covid-19 crisis; and have attended school board, neighborhood, and Jersey City Council meetings – active community members engage in civic leadership by example, became the targets of the Bland’s anti-gay bigotry.
Between 2013 and 2016, Trickle and Hernandez dealt with a never ending not-so whispered campaign which included the accusations ranging from truly vile but usual homophobia to the bizarre.
The typical (but nonetheless disgusting) bigoted trope of gays as child molesters and rapists was included, but so were the strange assertion that the duo swing around their private parts in public and are somehow dangerous to women.
Then in August of 2016 the homophobic bigotry came to a boil at a block party where Hernandez maintains he was assaulted by Militinia Bland and of which the police report states that he had cuts and bruises on his face.
Despite reporting to the scene of an alleged altercation after its end and despite the fact that Hernandez had visible wounds, only he was arrested and after brought to a local hospital, handcuffed to a gurney, without his consent had blood taken, and then released.
According to many in the police and legal community, the arrest and forced blood withdrawal without a warrant is an aberration from regular procedure at best and civil rights violation level bigotry at worst.
A September 2016 Molotov cocktail, which thankfully failed to ignite, was the next act of hatred and violence Hernandez and Trickle were faced with.
Whether the failed firebombing was a mere threatening message intentionally filled with fluid that wasn’t flammable enough to light or the sign of an incompetent attempted murderer, only the attacker and her/his possible conspirators know.
But what is known is that the attempted fire-bombing was prelude to the vicious physical beating Trickle was victim of, and which required the wiring shut of his jaw, for which Rashawn Singletary was convicted in 2017.
Singletary was driven by Vera Bland’s adult son, Richard Bland, who was charged with arranging the hit and later found guilty but given probation despite the gruesomeness and bigoted element of the crime as well as his past felony record.
Currently a suit is pending against the Bland sisters, Richard Bland, and the Jersey City Police Department for a host of crimes including the violation of civil rights, illegal imprisonment, conspiracy to commit assault, defamation and much more.
The questions are not whether Hernandez and Trickle will get their day in court against their tormentors but whether Jersey City will support two active community leaders being persecuted for being gay?
Will Jersey City’s leadership say no to homophobia?
Josh Sotomayor Einstein
New Jersey Republican State Committeeman