Jersey City candidate slammed as ‘anti-vaxxer’ after questioning vaccine and admitting he wasn’t inoculated. Jersey City Ward F city council candidate Frank Gilmore questioned the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and admitted at a campaign rally Wednesday night that he had not yet been vaccinated.
Gilmore, who was not wearing a mask, was with Ward E Councilman James Solomon at the Van Vorst Park Neighborhood Association candidate “meet and greet” when the two candidates were asked if they were vaccinated.
“I’m not vaccinated,” Gilmore told the crowd. “I really want to see the actual data on the vaccine. I have been reading a lot of conflicting stories, which is really angering me with respect to the different types of side effects and things of that nature. So that’s why I am not vaccinated.”
His political opponents pounced, with Mayor Steve Fulop calling Gilmore an “anti-vaxxer” and Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson saying Gilmore should halt all public campaign activity until he is fully vaccinated.
“In Jersey City, we have an anti-vaxxer running for City Council in Ward F,” Fulop tweeted. “The reality is that this type of misinformation is dangerous and irresponsible as he goes to senior homes and schools maskless while spreading nonsense.”
Gilmore, who owns Educational Gilmore Community Learning Center, received his first dose of the Moderna vaccines Thursday morning after being convinced by family and friends.
Gilmore, who is Black, defended the hesitancy and took a jab at those who question it.
“I don’t know for whatever reason people in this country act like there hasn’t been things that have happened to Black and brown communities with respect to vaccinations,” Gilmore told The Jersey Journal Thursday. “I guess they missed that history lesson.”
A distrust of vaccinations by people of color can be traced back to past atrocities like the Tuskegee syphilis study and the testing of birth control pills on Puerto Rican women, historians say. These widely documented events have added to the fear and skepticism that continues to surround vaccinations among Black and Latino people.
The COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be highly effective against slowing the spread of the coronavirus. After receiving the vaccine shot, such side effects as tiredness or muscle pain are possible, but minimal in comparison to the effects of catching COVID-19.
Gilmore said he relented and got vaccinated because of how it affects other people. “Sometimes it is not always about you, it is about other people,” he said.
Gilmore who denied he’s an “anti-vaxxer,” said he will continue campaigning with social distancing and mask use as he has previously done. He said wasn’t wearing a mask at the time of the video because he was speaking to the crowd.
He is running against the incumbent Robinson, and another challenger, Vernon Richardson. Richardson and Robinson who are also Black, have said they are completely vaccinated.
Richardson, an aide to Ward D Councilman Michael Yun, who died of the coronavirus in April 2020, said the science speaks for itself.
“He is playing a dangerous game by doing that, but I don’t want anything bad to happen to him,” Richardson said.
Solomon, who gave a thumbs-up sign to the crowd when asked the vaccination question, said afterward said he did not know Gilmore was unvaccinated.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective and is instrumental to ending this pandemic,” Solomon said in a statement. “This moment highlights how important it is that we all continue to have these types of conversations with our friends and families until everyone gets the vaccine.”
A 31-year-old man was fatally shot Wednesday in Newark, the second person gunned down in two days in the state’s largest city, officials said.
Dawoo A. Goff, of Newark, died around 3:45 p.m. after police found him shot on the 200 block of South 6th Street, according to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.
Authorities have not made any arrests in the shooting while the investigation was continuing, Acting Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens and Newark Public Safety Director Brian A. O’Hara said in a statement Thursday.
A 31-year-old East Orange man, Jamil Williams, was found shot to death in a parked car on Alexander Avenue in Newark around 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Authorities have not commented on a possible motive for the violence.
There were 43 murders in Newark this year as of Sunday, city police records show. The city reported 33 killings through the same period last year.
Shootings and gun-related homicides are up in New Jersey, according to data from the State Police. From January to May, 87 people were shot and killed, up 36% from the same period in 2020.
Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday joined governors from New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut in announcing a joint effort to share data in an effort to combat gun violence.
An 84-year-old pedestrian was fatally struck by a box truck Wednesday morning as she tried to cross Route 31 in Pennington, borough police said.