Assembly Speaker Pro-Tempore Gordon Johnson has asked the Bergen County Prosecutor to investigate a September 2021 incident where a protestor allegedly screamed “Jew” at Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) as a possible hate crime.
In a speech at Rutgers University last month, Gottheimer claimed that a member of the Working Families Party hurled the anti-Semitic slur at him at a Glen Rock event with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. Raimundo is backing up Gottheimer’s allegation.
Working Families state director Sue Altman said last month that her group reviewed footage from the protest and interviewed several participants.
“To be absolutely clear, if that ever happened at a WFP event, the person would have been rebuked instantly and asked to leave,” Altman said. “However, we do not believe Gottheimer’s explosive allegation ever occurred.”
Johnson wants the organization to dig deeper.
“To deny hate speech is to give bigots and racists power — whether against people of color or members of any faith,” Johnson said. “By denying the hate speech against Congressman Gottheimer ever occurred, despite the courageous confirmation by a member of President Biden’s cabinet, the WFP leadership and their allies truly empower haters.”
The Bergen County Democrat said that by “essentially calling Secretary Raimondo a liar and refusing to offer any apology, they add more hate to an already dangerous time.”
“The solution here is simple: Acknowledge the hateful incident and work together to prevent more acts like this from happening again in New Jersey,” Johnson said. “I stand ready to work with you.”
Altman stood behind the Working Families Party members who took part in the protest and said that it is a “political home for Jews and people of all faiths.”
“Antisemitism in America is a scourge that is all too real in America today, with the rise of right-wing white nationalism that has spilled into deadly shootings at synagogue,” she said. “It is for that reason that spurious and false allegations of antisemitism are extremely dangerous; they cheapen real ones.”
Now the matter is in the hands of the Bergen prosecutor, Mark Musella.
“I call upon the Bergen County Prosecutor’s office to conduct an investigation into this disturbing incident of anti-Semitic bias,” Johnson said.
A spokesperson for the Bergen County Prosecutor’s office declined to comment, noting that they cannot confirm or deny an investigation.