Lakewood Briefs

RUOC Page Removed and Quickly Replaced

State officials welcomed the brief removal of Rise up Ocean County’s social media page but criticized its re-birth hours later.

Lakewood-area Jewish activists have appealed for over a year for officials to take action against the page which fosters rhetoric widely labeled as anti-Semitic. This past April, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Director for Civil Rights, Rachel Wainer Apter, sent a letter asking a social media site to address concerns over the page, but, since then no changes were made.

This past Friday, when reports spread of Rise of Ocean County (RUOC) disappearance, Governor Phil Murphy and Attorney General Gubir Grewal issued a joint statement welcoming the move.

“We had serious concerns with racist and anti-Semitic statements on the page, including an explicit goal of preventing Orthodox Jews from moving to Ocean County, and we made clear our view that the page appeared to violate [the company’s] terms of service. We have continued to follow up with that since the initial letter in April, and we renewed our concerns as recently as this week,” read the statement. “We appreciate that [social media] has taken some steps to address anti-Semitic content on the page, but much more can be done, and we believe that [social media] must make lasting reforms to stop the spread of hate on the Internet. The Murphy Administration will continue to call out hate whenever and wherever we see it, and we will continue working to make New Jersey a safe and inclusive place for all of our residents.”

In the wake of the fatal shooting attack in Jersey City, Governor Murphy pledged stronger action against anti-Semitic rhetoric on social media.

Little public information was available for what triggered RUOC’s removal or its re-appearance. The page’s anonymous administrators said that its disappearance was the result of a “coordinated attack,” but did not elaborate.

Attorney General Grewal decried RUOC’s quick return to the internet in a tweet.

“It’s outrageous that just as our Jewish brothers and sisters are gathering to celebrate the Sabbath, “Rise Up Ocean County” decides to reinstate its page. Is this really the kind of online community that [the social media site] wants to cultivate?”
Rep. Kim Weary of Effects of Sulemani Assassination

Congressman Andy Kim (D-NJ) warned of the risks incurred to American troops and interests in the fallout of a US military strike that killed leading Iranian General, Qassem Soleimani.

“Suleimani was a murderer who has the blood of Americans and our allies on his hands. There is no doubt about that. But there is also no doubt that these strikes significantly heighten the risk to Americans living in the region including our military and diplomatic presence. The potential for severe retaliation from Iran and Iranian-backed forces is very real, and decisions made during the coming hours and days will determine whether we see the threat of a greater regional war in the Middle East realized,” he said.

A few days after the strike, after the Iraqi government voted to expel US forces from their country, the Rep. Kim issued second statement warning of the immediate impact of the assassination.

“Qasem Suleimani had a vision for the Middle East without American forces where Iran was the undisputed power of the region. With the developments today of the Iraqi Parliament voting to expel U.S. troops from Iraq and the Iranian announcement of their full withdrawal of the diplomatic process to halt their nuclear weapons ambitions, Suleimani’s goals, not ours, are being realized,” he said.

The Congressman, who served as Director of Iraq in Obama administration’s National Security Council warned that banishment of US troops could open a door to an ISIS resurgence. He also criticized comments by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling Iran’s threats “a little noise.”

We can still stop this slide. We cannot allow ISIS to regain their footing, as to do so would erase hard fought gains and put us at further risk. We cannot give up on diplomatic efforts to halt nuclear weapons as to do so would leave only nightmarish scenarios on the table. We must take seriously any and all threats against Americans and not dismiss them as ‘a little noise.’ These are bleak times, but there is still time to develop and execute a strategy that will give us the best chance to navigate through this crisis.”

Man Arrested for Weapons Sales at Corner of Park and Route 88

Lakewood police arrested a man for selling illegal weapons at the corner of Park Avenue and Route 88 (Ocean Avenue) last Tuesday.

According to police reports, Arturo Cuahutle-Flores, 47, of Lakewood, stood at the Self-Service Car Wash showing three handguns placed in his clothing to passersby and offering them for sale.

Authorities received a call. After approaching Cuahutle-Flores, he resisted arrest and was forcibly subdued by police officers.

The story attracted wider attention than that of a comparable crime amid heightened security and vigilance in the fallout of violent attacks against Jews in Jersey City and Monsey.