CLARK — After dodging questions about whether secret tapes of a police whistleblower were his, Mayor Sal Bonaccorso on Tuesday apologized for recording the racist and sexual comments.
Audio recordings published by NJ.com captured a myriad of racial slurs, misogynistic comments and remarks from Bonaccorso. Governor Phil Murphy was among those calling for Bonaccorso’s resignation.
“I am here today to say that I made mistakes and would like to apologize to the people of Clark, my family, my friends and anyone who was offended by my comments,” said Bonaccorso, a former elected Republican. , says in the video. “They had every right to expect more from me. My words shouldn’t reflect on any of them.”
Describing his remarks as “hurtful and insensitive”, the mayor said he was “embarrassed and ashamed to have spoken like this about a race of people. I learned, I changed and it won’t happen again.
Changed by the steps of the BLM
The mayor says he first learned about discrimination during the Black Lives Matters marches in 2020, which he says revealed his personal “blind spots” after listening to protesters’ message. The mayor says he is now a different person than he was. two years ago.
“I went to these marches in 2020 thinking I was going to listen to people. Instead, I heard a lot more in my head,” Bonaccorso says. “I now realize that not sharing my insights and lessons from these gatherings with this community was a missed opportunity.”
Bonaccorso also apologized for his “insensitive” remarks about a policewoman.
“They were hurtful and I’m sorry. They were also part of a larger difficult conversation we were having about the performance of several officers employed by Clark PD,” Bonaccorso said in the video.
The mayor admitted he couldn’t remember all the conversations he had, but said he was a different person than he was four years ago.
“Because the world is a teacher and I was fortunate enough to learn that a person’s age does not determine growth. It’s ongoing,” the mayor said.
Continue to learn by doing
Bonaccorso, who has been mayor since 2000, said he will continue his learning by working with Rahway resident Mark Bullock and his New Life CDC group to help bring people together.
“After a long, sincere and truthful conversation with Mark, I decided to continue my learning by doing,” says Bonaccorso. “I will also invite members of the community to join me. I look forward to working to change the perception of myself and Clark. For those who do not live here, we will understand that Clark is a loving man and caring community that accepts everyone.”
New Life CDC’s stated mission is to “meet the needs of people in all walks of life through community outreach and collaborative efforts that would result in a better community.”
The mayor did not address the $400,000 the township paid police Lt. Antonio Manata to keep the tapes secret. They became public as part of a whistleblower lawsuit brought by Manata.
Links to a previous incident
The comments on the audio refer to a 2017 incident at Arthur L. Johnson High School. A black puppet was left hanging by a string for the Plainfield women’s basketball team to find before a game against Clark. Just days after the image sparked public outrage on Facebook, Bonaccorso went to Plainfield City Council to formally apologize.
Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp, who is black and a Democrat, told New Jersey 101.5 he was offended by the racist and misogynistic comments. He called them “staggering” and “reprehensible and called on Bonaccorso to resign.
The mother of a student whose friend left the sculpture said it was a ‘misunderstanding’ and the puppet was meant to look like basketball player Lebron James for a class assignment.
Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]
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