New Jersey mayor says his response to anti-Semitic tweet was misinterpreted

PHOTO: Brick Township Mayor John G. Ducey listens during a meeting with a Greenbriar resident in Brick Township, N.J., Aug. 14, 2018.PlayAsbury Park Press via USA Today Network, FILE
WATCH News headlines today: April 25, 2019

A response to an anti-Semitic tweet turned into an online controversy for a New Jersey mayor.

John Ducey, who is the mayor of Brick Township on the Jersey Shore, was keeping up his policy of responding to all Twitter posts when one of his responses got him in hot water.

On Tuesday, a Twitter user asked the mayor, "Can we please do something about our parks and beaches. They are being invaded by the hasidic and orthodox jews [sic] and being ruined. Our tax paying residents are being forced out while politicians sit and do nothing."

That tweet has since been deleted, but Ducey's response has not been, and there are screengrabs of the exchange circulating on Twitter. The mayor also confirmed to ABC News the text of the user's tweet.

Ducey responded, writing, "Our parks security has started already. Just call police with any problems and they will send them out."

That response to the anti-Semitic tweet prompted an outcry against the mayor.

On Wednesday morning, Ducey posted a message on Twitter addressing the controversy, saying, "This twitter feed (and the world in general) is no place for bigotry or hateful comments."

Ducey described the situation to ABC News and said that his response has been misinterpreted.

"The tweeter sent a tweet with a terrible anti-Semitic statement and spoke about our parks," Ducey told ABC News via email.

Ducey wrote that he felt he had three options: to directly confront the anti-Semitism, which "I chose not to do because acknowledging the statement would validate it and cause hurt to many."

He said the second option would be "to ignore it entirely, but before this incident I believed in full interaction with residents on Twitter and I answered every tweet."

Ducey said that the last best option was "to ignore the hateful speech and respond in general what to do if there were any problems in any of our parks. I chose option 3 in order to diffuse the situation."

"I am sorry for the confusion and the hurt caused by the situation. My goal was the exact opposite," Ducey wrote.

"Our parks have always been and continue to be open for all. A brief stop at them on any day will confirm same," he wrote.