Despite Apology, Some Call for His Resignation
By Josh Resnek
A large contingent of Haitian members of the Everett community crowded into city hall Mon
day evening to denounce Councillor Stephen Simonelli.
Nearly every speaker demanded his resignation and expressed disgust and dismay for his failure to denounce a Facebook posting that derided and degraded the Haitian community.
Instead, Simonelli agreed with the posting, a review of the postings reveals.
“ I am disgusted and dismayed,” said a Haitian woman, a resident of Everett.
“He should resign or be fired.” Her remarks were followed with a wide round of hearty applause.
Television cameras from the major Boston stations recorded the scene Monday night inside the council chamber.
Simonelli’s interpreter read a statement from the councilor.
“It is not my character to hurt, harm or upset anyone,” he said. “I never said nor would ever say anything racist, bigoted or hateful. I was simply commenting on a post,” he added.
The mayor also spoke.
“We’ve all worked very hard to make this a diverse city.
He described the Facebook posts as disgusting.
“We accept everyone. We love everyone. This hate has to stop,” he said.
* * *
Late Saturday night on Fox 25, Simonelli first made the news – but not because of what he said on the Facebook page, but rather, for agreeing with someone else about what they said on the same Facebook page during the same exchange.
Simonelli answered a Facebook rant under the name Noonan John that went something like this:
Noonan John ranted on the page about being cut off in traffic by a “nasty Haitian woman.” He went on to write, “Its crazy, some of these people come here with a bad attitude and think they can do and get away with whatever they want. They are rude (expletive redacted)who don’t even know or care about the rules of the road. Some of these (expletive redacted) should be sent back to the filthy (expletive redacted) they came from-(expletive redacted) them!”
Councillor Simonelli’s response got him a place on the 11 o’clock news.
Here’s the response:
“Hallelujah we say learn how to drive the rules of the road learn language stop complaining should be grateful for just being here we know you nothing by you want everything,” Simonelli wrote on Facebook.
The brother of the man who authored the hate piece on Facebook spoke Monday night.
“My brother is wrong. He wrote something that is wrong during a bad moment,” said the man – a rather large white man with his head shaved cleanly who identified himself as the brother of John Noonan.
In forceful unvarnished language he said that in order for people get respect they need to give respect. I believe in diversity only to a certain point,” he said.
At this point the crowd started booing the speaker, which caused council President Peter Napolitano to protest loudly.
“This man has the same right to speak that you do. The crowd will remain quiet or I will end this hearing,” he said.
The crowd quieted down. The speaker began anew. “Respect is a two way street.
My skin isn’t the right color,” he said.
The crowd broke into a collective shout of condemnation.
He finished by telling the councilors and the crowd that he had spent 17 years in prison and that he learned to live with, and to survive with all kinds of people.
“Respect is a two way street.”
* * *
Simonelli sat quietly next to his interpreter as the television cameras directed their lenses on him and then swept to the crowd for the evening news reports that followed.
Those reports continued on the morning news Tuesday.
But not much changed for Simonelli, who said he was satisfied with his apology.
“It is my intent to serve my community, a city I serve with pride. For generations my family who immigrated here, has been part of this community, helping neighbors and citizens. That is something I still strive daily to do. I am proud of the immigrant roots of our city, and I will continue to support them in any way I can,” he said.