N.J. Mayor Steps Down Claiming Racism
By Jackie Morlock & Karen Araiza
updated 11:45 a.m. ET, Wed., Jan. 14, 2009
It's a sad day for Charles Tyson and it's a shameful day for the state of race relations in our country. Tyson is stepping down from his post as Mayor of South Harrison Township in New Jersey. He says the death threats and racist vandalism he and his family have endured are not worth it anymore.
At a reorganization meeting Monday, a five-member committee planned to nominate and vote on community leadership positions, including the role of Mayor.
Tyson, the town's first black Mayor, turned down his nomination and put an end to his term as Mayor since 2007. Tyson said he did not want to continue serving as mayor, but agreed to stay on as deputy mayor.
Not long after being elected two years ago, Tyson said he received emails and phone calls warning him that he was being watched and calling him a ?dead man.? No arrests were ever made in relation to those threats. Investigators said whoever made the calls used disposable phones.
Tyson also had his tires slashed and a sign on his lawn bedecked with ?KKK.?
A member of a neo-Nazi organization was indicted last month for making other threatening phone calls to Tyson and other African Americans, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Some residents in the town see it as a political rather than a racial issue. They claim Tyson plays the race card whenever he gets criticized.
Robert Campbell was elected mayor and Tyson Deputy Mayor at Monday?s meeting.
Text of a letter sent to Tyson by white supermacist Bill White:
"Dear Mayor Charles Tyson: I recently read of the racism you?ve faced in Harrisonville, New Jersey, and I wanted to make something perfectly clear: a) You are a nigger unworthy to govern over any white man; and, b) Fuck you. You?ve gotten exactly what you deserve from your constituents. Unfortunately, the days when white men would simply burn the local newspaper and run nigger officials out with tar and feathers are past. However, your incidents give me hope that perhaps we shall see them again. Bill White, Commander American National Socialist Workers Party PS: We know you live at [ADDRESS REDACTED] [PHONE NUMBER REDACTED]. I just spoke to your wife Carolyn. I hope you got my message."