JACKSON – Council President Robert Nixon closed a recent Township Council meeting condemning social media attacks which he said has endured for several years now.
Nixon called out anonymous information that was deliberately distorted and edited to frame a narrative that he and other township officials were acting to create policy that was prejudicial against the township’s Orthodox Jewish community.
The council president said that in one instance, a clip from a 2016 meeting was used where he had responded to a question about real estate solicitations and the township’s no knock law and made to appear as if there was a bias intent to his comments.
“It is hard to ignore threats against me and my family. I have to speak out against the keyboard warriors who are willfully dishonest and are trying to divide this community,” Nixon said.
Referencing the recent post that had the comments from 2016, Nixon said that “there was a suggestion that I was saying something with an ominous tone to it. It was a clip with no context. I went back to that meeting and listened to the whole exchange. I was asked a question about real estate solicitations and what we could do about them. Could we ban them? Could we restrict them to time, date and places?”
Nixon added that the council had deliberated on the issue with consultation with township attorney Jean Cipriani. “Through that we developed our no knock law that the people of this town and the association of realtors 100 percent support. We didn’t ban solicitors. We didn’t pass phony cease and desist legislation like some others did. We did things that benefited every single resident of the community. Since then we haven’t gotten any complaints about real estate solicitors in this town anymore.
“This reminds me of another attempt at character assassination that occurred a few years ago where two completely unrelated e-mails were spliced together and spread around social media. That led to more hateful and misinformed threats against me and my family. They wouldn’t show the original e-mails because that would prove that they were deliberately creating a false narrative,” Nixon said.
“Sadly, that is just the tip of the iceberg of the nonsense and invented crisis that appears on social media. If I had one wish for this town it would be for people to stay off the internet and actually talk to each other because by talking to each other is the only way we can truly know one other and get the facts,” Nixon said.
Nixon asked several questions of his own. “I need to ask a question directly. Why the insinuations? Why is there a false reality? Why spread anonymous comments if your purpose is anything other than to be divisive?”
The official noted that while free speech provides a means of communication to speak out on issues that he was employing free speech to speak out against misrepresentation. “I will renew my offer to have real communication to bring people together and I welcome it and I know everyone sitting up here on this dais will do the same thing anytime any place. We need willing partners however who won’t hide behind anonymous websites, lawyers and Facebook pages,” Nixon said.
Mayor Michael Reina issued an announcement that he and Nixon would host a round-table discussion concerning issues of common concern to the community at 7 p.m. April 2 at the township municipal complex’s main meeting room. The municipal complex is located at 95 West Veterans Highway.
Last month Reina, Nixon and members of the council condemned anti-Semitic hate speech during a council meeting that followed a press conference concerning a Facebook page called Rise Up Ocean County that residents of the county’s Orthodox Jewish population and several elected leaders such as Sen. Robert Singer have condemned for its content regarding the Orthodox Jewish community as related to development issues.
Rise Up Ocean County which became active in 2018 has also focused on bringing awareness to traffic, overcrowding and general growth issues. It has received criticism for not listing its page owners and moderators.
Members of the media including The Jackson Times have received e-mails from representatives of anonymous groups such as Citizens for Jackson and Rise Up Jackson which have featured links to videos and articles that have called for action against Nixon and Reina and described them as abusing their authority concerning ordinances involving development and regulations involving the Orthodox Jewish community.
Nixon told The Jackson Times after the most recent council meeting that he believes the majority of the anonymous negative commentary being posted is from non-Jackson residents.