Black New Jersey residents probably didn’t bat an eye when they found out Clark, New Jersey’s mayor was accused of using the n-word. Mayor Sal Bonaccorso was heard in a resurfaced audio recording spouting racist profanity, reported NBC News. This is only one instance of the many things that have contributed to the town’s racism.
On the recordings from 2018 and 2019, Bonaccorso is heard using the N-word among other racist terms as well as calling female police officers “f*cking disasters,” reported NBC. The recordings also captured Police Chief Pedro Matos and Sgt. Joseph Teston making additional racist comments. The state Attorney General’s office has announced they will investigate Clark’s police leadership.
La’Tesha Sampson, a Black Clark resident, told NBC she wasn’t shocked about the recordings. “The town we live in is not known because we have a great park or a great program. We are known because of the history of racism,” Sampson said via NBC.
More on Clark’s racist history from NBC News:
Clark, a town of 15,500 about 13 miles south of Newark, is more than 90 percent white, and fewer than 2 percent of its residents are Black.
Residents of Clark and Rahway, in central New Jersey, told NBC News that people of color refer to the town as “no dark Clark,” a phrase that has a double-meaning — that racial minorities are not welcomed there and that, for their own safety, they should avoid being in Clark at night. They said it’s also well known that Black and Latino drivers are pulled over more frequently and at disproportionately higher rates than white drivers.
Clark police said it doesn’t collect racial data on traffic tickets.
Bonaccorso was in the news before this incident too, however. In June 2020, during the George Floyd protests, he told a crowd of protestors, “I am pro-Black for all the good Black people I know in my life.” Funny enough, he also invited a Trump rally to parade through the busiest section of town and gather at the Town Hall.
“I deeply apologize for my hurtful and insensitive language. It was wrong. I am embarrassed and ashamed to have spoken that way about a race of people. I’ve learned and I have changed. And it will not happen again. However, a true measure of a man is whether he can admit an error and then learn from it,” Bonaccorso said.
However, many residents and even Gov. Phil Murphy have called for his resignation, per NBC. We’ll see what happens by the time reelection comes in 2024.