Atlantic County commissioners unanimously passed a nonpartisan resolution opposing political and mob violence of all kinds at its meeting last Tuesday, seeming to heal bad feelings from a previous meeting in which a more partisan resolution was tabled.
The board “condemns all violent actors, hate groups, riotous mobs and persons inciting crime as a means to harm, threaten or intimidate other people,” reads the new resolution, written by Republican Commissioner James Bertino.
At a meeting in late January, Democratic Commissioner Caren Fitzpatrick had proposed the board pass the same resolution passed by the overwhelmingly Democratic state Senate, which called for the immediate removal of President Donald Trump and condemned the Jan. 6 violence at the U.S. Capitol.
Several of the Republican commissioners said they could support a resolution opposing the violence but could not support the wording regarding Trump, who was already leaving office. That meeting got a bit heated between the six Republicans and two Democrats.
“I didn’t think (the earlier resolution) addressed a lot of concerns that happened nationally for a lot of different people,” Bertino said. “So I made sure to make it clear that all citizens have the right to live free from violence — the violence across the county not just what occurred at the Capitol.”
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Bertino was referring to violent protests in cities around the United States this summer, which at times grew out of peaceful protests of police brutality.
“There is no other way but the Democratic process,” Bertino said. “Peaceful means you have no right to hurt and use violence, destroy people’s property and destroy other people’s lives.”
Fitzpatrick, who had sponsored the earlier resolution, applauded Bertino’s resolution.
“I think that his effort to make it nonpartisan was well done,” Fitzpatrick said. She suggested one addition, which all commissioners supported, “to say that words matter, especially from leaders. No matter what your elected position is — dog catcher or president of the United States.”
The resolution that passed also says the board “condemns and rejects all groups and individuals that resort to violence and destruction under a claim of political action ... (and) all groups, individuals and organizations that promote or cause violence to undermine our democracy.”
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It “encourages all people of all political views to unite together against all violent actors and in support of the fundamental rights all Americans are afforded by the U.S. Constitution.”
State Senate Resolution 106 passed Jan. 11 on a 24-5 vote. State Sen. Chris Brown, R-Atlantic, voted in favor of it.
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