Members of the state’s Legislative Black Caucus struck a defiant tone, calling out the president for a series of tweets denigrating a quartet of female members of Congress — all black or Latina – telling them to go back to the country they came from.
“We are living in some really scary times right here. The president has affirmed for us this last week that he acknowledges, avows and speaks loudly of his racism. And no matter how he tries to whiten it up, it’s still racism. And his racism that he has extolled brings silence from those who work with him, support him or are just darn scared of him,” said Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman.
Coleman and others warned about the potential dangerous march toward despotism represented by the president’s words, the reaction to them from his supporters and the relative silence from congressional Republicans. Look at our history, said state Sen. Nia Gill, to see the potential.
“We’ve seen Donald Trump blocking the entrance of the schoolhouse doors. We’ve seen Donald Trump waiting on the other side of the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the fateful Sunday on March 7, 1965. We see President Donald Trump in his most admired president, Sharp Knife Jackson. And we’ve seen him on the trail of tears,” said Gill.
“The women, the squad, I am fearful for their lives. I am really fearful for their lives. I heard earlier this week that several people were arrested because they were plotting against Congresswoman Omar. I want the four women in the Congress that serve with our congresswoman to know in New Jersey we are with you, we are behind you, we will embrace them and we will protect them,” said Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver.
In mostly anti-Trump, blue-leaning Jersey, opposition to the president is politically safe and he has been condemned, even by Jersey Republicans, albeit in general, mostly hushed tones. Tuesday’s event was lacking in Democratic Party leadership. Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Gov. Phil Murphy were all elsewhere. Organizers said the event was by invitation and that the governor had issued a statement of support, which we’ve yet to be receive. The caucus says it doesn’t stand alone and insists that their colleagues are with them, even in absentia.