For weeks, the mayor of a New Jersey town has come under fire for secret tapes that captured him using racial slurs. As calls for racial equality in the Union County community continue to grow, the latest actions come from a surprising source: a rival city’s youth basketball team.
Former Governor Richard Codey has been coaching youth basketball for nearly 25 years, passing the ball to big names including Kyrie Irving and other professional players. Codey, who served as the state’s governor from 2004 to 2006, is now an outspoken state senator.
So when the racist Buffalo Massacre rocked the country, Codey wanted to make sure the voices of his diverse young players from Roosevelt Middle School to West Orange were heard.
“No matter what color your skin is, we should all be able to feel safe,” player Aaron Morrison said.
The West Orange Knights 7th grade boys’ basketball team will all wear t-shirts with the words “end racism” and “equality” at a tournament in Clark on Saturday. It is made to send a message to Clark Mayor Sal Bonaccorso, who was heard on leaked audio recordings using racist language against the black community and sexist comments about female police officers.
“What the mayor said was not true at all,” Morrison said. His father shared the sentiment.
“It’s extremely important that kids understand what’s appropriate and what’s not,” said Mark Morrison.
“When you see a mayor of a town in New Jersey is on tape using the N-word over and over but won’t step down, that’s wrong,” Codey said. “It’s time to say: Clark, get rid of him.”
Bonaccorso has since apologized, but has ignored calls for his resignation.
“It’s a life lesson and I hope they remember it,” Codey said. “So if they face it again, they can handle it the right way.”
Codey said he’s unsure if wearing the jerseys on Saturday will be a one-time thing or if the team will wear the jerseys in other games.