A longtime proponent for civility, Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick hosted a panel discussion on hate speech at Union County College Monday night.
The panel consisted of two former New Jersey attorneys general, along with current AG Gurbir Grewal, inclusion expert Meryl Chertoff and former political director of the state NAACP Walter Fields.
According to statistics that Grewal shared with attendees, bias incidents in the Garden State have been on the rise since 2016. While last year saw 569 reported incidents, 2019 has already far surpassed that number, with more than 700 reported incidents as of October.
“I think what we’re seeing in this state is what we’re seeing in this country, that there is an extraordinary amount of division. That civility has gone by the wayside,” said Grewal. “That people who were perhaps once confined to the dark corners of the internet now feel more comfortable not only saying hateful things in the public square but also acting out on those hateful thoughts.”
Bramnick is in a tough re-election fight this year, with two Democratic women and two conservative men trying to squeeze him out, but he claimed the discussion had nothing to do with politics.
Some questioned what a Democratic attorney general was doing at an evening organized by a Republican up for election, but Grewal said he’ll take any opportunity to talk about civility and hate speech.