“This is terrible. This is terrible. This is gonna be a f***in’ n***** town.”
The aforementioned racist statement, recorded on voicemail, has been identified with “85 percent” certainty by a forensics lab as coming from Belleville, New Jersey, councilwoman and Democratic mayoral candidate Marie Strumolo Burke, according to NJ.com.
Burke also is listed as a municipal chair on the Essex County Democratic Committee, and her bio on Belleville’s website notes she’s served as the town’s Democratic Chairman.
Burke’s alleged racist outburst can be heard on a voicemail discussing proposed changes to Belleville’s tax rates, said Mayor Raymond Kimble, who’s running against Burke in the June mayoral election, adding that he’ll call for Burke’s resignation.
Here’s audio of the voicemail posted to YouTube; Burke’s alleged statement can be heard in the background toward the end just after the main message left by former town planning board chairman Sam Papa, the New York Daily News reported, for town councilman Kevin Kennedy (WARNING: Strong language.)
Burke, a 50-year Belleville resident, has repeatedly denied the allegations. In an email to the Newark Star-Ledger, she accused Kimble of playing dirty politics.
“I am outraged and I am ‘100% certain’ that Kimble’s fingerprints are all over this report,” Burke wrote. “We don’t need to pay thousands of dollars to a laboratory to prove that these false accusations lead right back to Kimble.”
More from NJ.com:
The answering machine was turned over to Primeau Forensics Lab in Michigan last week, said Edward Primeau, the lab’s director. He said he was “85 percent” sure the voice on the tape was Burke’s after comparing the recording to public comments she made at recent town council meetings.
Primeau said Burke’s accents and manner of speaking at council meetings was identical to those of the voice on the recording.
“It’s her. It’s the same person,” Primeau told NJ.com. “Her speaking style, her pacing. The delivery of all the words spoken in both samples are identical.” Primeau added that the only way he could deem the voices “100 percent” identical would be if Burke were to read aloud the statements made on the phone so he could compare them.
“It’s sad to hear that, in the 21st century, in our state, that we have elected officials who have that type of attitude,” Thomas Puryear, president of the Maplewood-Orange chapter of the NAACP, which represents 11 municipalities, told NJ.com. “It lets us know that racism is alive, and unfortunately doing very well, in our state and in our nation.”
Here’s a clip reportedly showing Mary Short of the Belleville Municipal Employees Association telling Burke at a Belleville council meeting earlier this month to own up to her alleged racist comment:
Kimble made the lab’s findings public Tuesday and characterized Burke’s alleged comments as “disturbing.” Primeau said the $1,320 bill for the analysis was paid for by a group of “concerned citizens” led by Thomas Grolimond.
Grolimond is a member of the town’s Department of Public Works hired during Kimble’s mayor tenure who told NJ.com he “helps out” with Kimble’s campaign but is not employed by the mayor. Grolimond also said the lab work wasn’t funded or ordered by Kimble.
Kimble said he received the tape in October but didn’t know when the phone call was placed, adding that the upcoming election isn’t related to his decision to release the tape. He also denied any involvement with Grolimond’s actions.
“The tape speaks for itself,” Kimble said.
(H/T: Weasel Zippers)