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Montclair NAACP vice president James Harris.

Embattled NAACP leader resigns state post, at Murphy’s urging

James Harris out as member of New Jersey Education Opportunity Fund

By David Wildstein, January 10 2020 3:53 pm

Montclair NAACP vice president James Harris, under fire for making anti-Semitic statements at a local community forum late last month, has resigned his post on an unpaid state board at the request of Gov. Phil Murphy.

Today, Governor Murphy accepted the resignation of James Harris from the Education Opportunity Fund due to his unacceptable comments,” said Alyana Alfaro, a spokesperson for the governor.  “He looks forward to working with all communities to continue the healing process.”

Harris launched a tirade aimed at Hasidic Jews at a forum organized by Councilwoman Renee Baskerville.

Harris said that that the Jewish community in Lakewood “controls” the town at the expense of black and Latino students and described Hasidic Jews as “folks in long black suits and curly locks” who are buying properties and victimizing people of color in Lakewood and Jersey City.

Baskerville has steadfastly refused to criticize Harris and repeatedly avoided requests for comment.

Instead, she issued a statement of  more than 1,400 words that never mentioned Harris, a longtime leader in Montclair’s African American community.

Other prominent Montclair residents, including Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) and deputy mayor Sean Spiller, offered quick and harsh rebukes of Harris.

Mayor Robert Jackson organized a meeting of Rabbis and African American clergy to discuss an incident and lesson local tensions.

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