Cranford Committee condemns hateful speech posted online

CRANFORD, NJ — The Cranford Township Committee passed a resolution on June 9 that condemns “hateful and racist rhetoric” in online posting, as well as condemning the use of the town’s name in association with any group that contains such language. The language of the resolution specifically called out the “Cranford Uncensored” Facebook group, a group not affiliated with the township where residents can post about anything they wish relating to Cranford.

“At its public meeting, the Cranford Township Committee, in the strongest of terms, acknowledged that hate-filled speech that targets people based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual identity contributes to discrimination. The committee passed a resolution that also cited the role that social media plays in furthering divisions in communities,” a township statement read on June 10. “Resolution 2020-227 condemned and disavowed the use of the name ‘Cranford’ by individuals and on sites, including the Facebook group ‘Cranford Uncensored,’ that targets and harasses individuals.”

The resolution is clear that is does not — and cannot under the First Amendment — stop these groups, but it reaffirms the township’s social media policy for municipal employees, which prohibits employees from engaging in or supporting discrimination, hatred and violence based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexuality.

“Cranford Uncensored” was the sole group cited in the resolution. The closed group has nearly 4,000 members and averages 80 posts per day. Administrators of the Facebook group could not be reached for comment by press time.

This issue came up most recently on May 31 in a Facebook post made by Mayor Patrick Giblin, in which he reaffirmed that the township has nothing to do with “Cranford Uncensored.”

“Over the last 24 hours, I’ve seen comments from many residents about racial comments made on the ‘Cranford Uncensored’ Facebook page,” Giblin wrote. “Silence equals support, and this is not reflective of the Cranford that I know and love. I owe our residents that have been offended an apology for not speaking up sooner. By connecting our beloved Cranford town name to this page, it reflects poorly on the accepting and kind community that I know.”

The post garnered nearly 160 responses, most of which were supportive of the mayor’s comments. Brian Lopez, who runs the “Cranford Uncensored” page, however, demanded that the mayor and commenters provide actual examples of hate language on his page.
“The page is an exchange of ideas,” Lopez wrote.

Lopez claimed in the Facebook comments that the whole issue arose after Giblin blocked Lopez from the mayor’s personal Twitter account.

Nevertheless, the commenters on the mayor’s Facebook post were supportive of reporting the page to Facebook to have it removed and of doing everything possible to distance Cranford from the comments made on the page.