BRICK – Mayor John G. Ducey said he had three choices when he received an anti-Semitic Tweet from a resident.
The Tweet read, “Can we please do something about our parks and beaches. They are being invaded by the Hasidic and Orthodox Jews and being ruined. Our tax paying residents are being forced out while politicians sit and do nothing.”
His first choice was to ignore it and not respond at all, “but up to that point I always responded to every tweet because I believe in open and accessible government,” he said in a phone interview on April 26.
His second choice was to confront the individual, but he said he didn’t want to inflame the situation in a Twitter battle “and give credence and validation to his point of view,” he said.
And his third choice was to ignore the bigoted part of the tweet and tell them what to do if there is a problem at one of the parks.
“I chose the third option,” he said, and Tweeted, “Our parks security has started already. Just call police with any problems and they will send them out.”
(Security for township parks typically starts when school lets out, but security started earlier this year because people have been trying to use Bernie Cooke Park even though it is under construction).
“I knew fairly well he wouldn’t make a call for parks security because there was no problem” Ducey said. “He was just a bigoted person.”
Afterwards, the resident, Twitter user @simms10471 turned his anger towards Ducey, continuing to Tweet that the laws should be changed to ban non-residents from using township parks, and that the mayor wasn’t doing enough.
“I said I can’t, that is discriminatory and I wouldn’t do such a thing,” Ducey said. “But the original Tweet took off, he deleted his Twitter account and the only thing that remained was a screenshot of my original response, not my Tweet or two after that where I said it was discriminatory.”
After that, Ducey found himself with excessive local and even national media coverage.
“My original Tweet was misunderstood by a lot of people. It’s just a misunderstanding,” the mayor said.
Ducey later Tweeted: “This Twitter feed (and the world in general) is no place for bigotry or hateful comments. They are hurtful and divisive. They are condemned by me and all who are trying to make a difference in the world. Look for the good in you and others and the world will be a better place.”
Critics were angry that Ducey didn’t call out the anti-Semitism in the original Tweet, and that he didn’t specifically address anti-Semitism in his condemnation of hate.
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer released a statement that a full probe is underway involving their office, the Brick Township Police Department and the FBI regarding threats made on Twitter towards Mayor Ducey.
While no details were released by the Prosecutor’s Office, the Asbury Park Press, who had been tagged, reported the threat said “time to kill” and listed Ducey’s home address. The originating Twitter account with the handle @DoctorLock and the name Daniel Roberts has been suspended.
The Brick Times reached out to police in hopes to find out more information regarding security measures. Brick Police Sergeant Keith Donnelly replied “This is an active investigation and I cannot release any additional information.”
Many of the township parks are utilized by families from neighboring Lakewood, especially recently when children were off from school due to Passover.
Brick residents have occasionally complained at council meetings about families “from a neighboring community” taking over township parks and leaving areas strewn with garbage.
After resident complaints about groups exceeding 100 people arriving at township parks and beaches at one time, the governing body passed an ordinance in July 2017 that requires groups of 15 or more people wishing to use township parks to apply for a permit from the township Recreation department and pay a refundable maintenance fee.
– Jason Allentoff contributed to this story