EDISON — Metuchen Mayor Peter Cammarano said when he read the pledge ‘Confronting Bigotry: Stand Up for the Other,’ he said the message was simple.
“[The pledge is] common sense yet every day we experience [some form of hate],” he said. “It’s easy for us to keep walking and shrug it off.”
Cammarano joined other officials including Edison Mayor Thomas Lankey, State Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak (D-Middlesex), Edison Deputy Chief of Police Ron Mieczkowski, David Leonardis, training and outreach liaison for the Office of the Attorney General, Division of Criminal Justice, and various members of the clergy in and around Middlesex County to stand up together against bigotry and hate on July 6 at Temple Emanu-El in Edison.
The pledge was the idea of Mohammad Ali Chaudry of the New Jersey Interfaith Coalition, who said he urges all members of each community to take the pledge.
Cammarano said like their neighboring communities, Metuchen has experienced a more diverse growth in population.
“I believe the vast majority has embraced the diversity,” he said.
However, Cammarano said he would be remiss if he did not see beyond the lines when he is asked ‘who is moving in those apartments’ downtown, which are in the midst of being constructed.
“My answer is usually ‘Not sure, I think they are people’,” he said.
Cammarano said as leaders, it’s important not to shrug it off and walk away, but to stand up and talk and make the pledge.
Lankey said they are lucky to live in an area with such diversity; however, bigotry and hate do exist.
Combating bigotry and hate, Lankey said it will take one step at a time working with the surrounding communities and clergy members.
“It’s important to be transparent,” he said.
Karabinchak said it is important for everyone to stand up together regardless of race, color, religion, sexuality etc.
“Diversity is strength in the community,” he said. “I have lived in Edison for more than 60 years and I have seen the change and it is good.”
Rabbi David Z. Vaisberg of Temple Emanu-El read a proclamation from Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac.
Temple Emanu-El, the Metuchen Edison Area Interfaith Clergy Association and the New Jersey Interfaith Coalition hosted the event.
Vaisberg welcomed the people who gathered together. He sang songs of hope.
Members of the clergy from Imam Nizam Ahmad Raouf Zamamn of the Muslim Center of Middlesex County to Rev. Chuck Coblentz of the New Dover United Methodist Church spoke about working together to remove racism, anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia.
Mieczkowski said the event on July 6 gave the Edison Police Department the opportunity to get out into the community.
He urged anyone who feels they have an issue to reach out to them.
Leonardis said on behalf of Christopher S. Porrino, New Jersey Attorney General, they welcome any connection to eliminate bias.
He outlined ways the state Attorney General’s Office has worked on to combat bigotry and hate.
An email hotline has been established specifically dedicated to reported bias incidents. All complaints, whether received in person, by telephone or email, will be sent to the New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey Department of Criminal Justice, Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and the appropriate county Prosecutor.
To encourage reporting, the state Attorney General Office offers up to $10,000 as a reward for any tip from the public that leads to a bias crime conviction.