TRENTON – Senator Nia H. Gill (D-Essex/Passaic) issued the following statement in response to Assemblyman Parker Space’s actions and defense of a photo posted on social media of the assemblyman in front of a Confederate flag:
“Parker Space’s actions and comments are not humorous, they are tinged with hatred and bigotry. At their best, they are ignorant.
“The Confederacy was a rebellion against the United States of America, whose leaders decided to tear our country apart in the defense of slavery. In the twentieth century, the Confederate battle flag became a symbol of white supremacy, used to oppose the civil rights movement. What was a fallen banner for the Confederate States of America, turned into a symbolic pennant for the KKK and other hate groups who held up the flag as a representation of racism and the subjugation of Black Americans and other minority groups.
“Moreover, the phrase emblazoned on the flag behind Assemblyman Space references song lyrics ‘If the south woulda won, we’d of had it made.’
“If the south would have won, African-Americans would be in bondage. If the south would have won, America would not be a unified nation.
“This is not an isolated incident. Parker Space was the only member of the New Jersey General Assembly to abstain from a resolution condemning the use of the Confederate flag. He even has animals at his place of business named for a Confederate general. He is unapologetic for his actions and when asked to explain himself, he calls it humor. It’s indefensible.
“Like most states, New Jersey has worked to right the wrongs of its past. In 2003, then Senator Leonard Lance and I worked together to remove a stain on New Jersey’s history. We reached across the aisle and passed a resolution recommitting to the ratification of the 14th Amendment, which granted citizenship and civil liberties to freed slaves. This action was necessary because in 1868, the Assembly and Senate passed a resolution to rescind the ratification of the amendment.
“Hatred and bigotry have no place in New Jersey’s Legislature or our elected politics. The party of Lincoln has fallen into the hands of people like Donald Trump and Parker Space, who intentionally stoke the fire of racism to create division. I am calling on all people of good conscience, no matter what party, to condemn this bigotry and hatred and to demonstrate to the residents of New Jersey and our nation that we do not sit silently when our elected officials stand for and then defend racist ideals.”