Warren County Democratic Chairman Tom Palmieri condemned Washington Borough Councilwoman Louann Cox for statements she made during a vote on a resolution to recognize and Juneteenth early this month.
“We can’t keep giving elected officials a pass by chalking their remarks up to ignorance. Remarks like this aren’t ignorant, they’re racist,” Palmieri said. “Elected officials need to be held accountable for the words they say. Words hurt. And Black Lives Matter.”
Cox, a Republican, voted in favor of the resolution, but not before making remarks questioning the need for resolution and the impact of slavery on Black Americans in the contemporary world.
“Why do we need this? Like where did this come from. Who brought it up and why do we need — it’s for the black slavery history? Is that what it is? Ok, so were not white people in there also?” she said. “Why do we need to — to me it doesn’t seem like it’s something the borough should be getting their hands into.”
The state of New Jersey and the federal government have recognized Juneteenth, which commemorates the emancipation of slaves in Texas, which was the last confederate state to maintain slavery during the civil war.
Cox questioned whether the resolution was needed and whether the borough should be focused on other matters.
“Why are we celebrating something when there’s like 95 million other things that are of more importance,” she said. “I am sure there’s no African American people that live today that had a close relationship with a relative that was a slave.”
Deputy Mayor Ethel Conry, who is Black and a Democrat, said members of her family had known the horrors of slavery second-hand.
“I do have relatives that are still living that were slaves to let you know,” she said. “I took offense to that. I have a 101-year-old uncle and I took offense.”