Jersey City mayor’s chief of staff resigns in wake of controversial remarks coming to light

Joshua Burd//October 16, 2014

Jersey City mayor’s chief of staff resigns in wake of controversial remarks coming to light

Joshua Burd//October 16, 2014

Muhammed Akil, the chief of staff to Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, has resigned after a racially charged speech he made two decades ago came to light earlier this month.“Comments I made as a college student 20 years ago were recently reported in the media as if they reflect my current thinking. This is simply untrue,” Akil said in a prepared statement Thursday. “Throughout my personal life and professional career, I have worked on behalf of individuals from all beliefs and backgrounds. However, these comments made two decades ago have become a distraction to the administration and all the important work that city employees undertake daily.

“I would like to thank Mayor Fulop for giving me the honor to serve as his chief of staff.  As a dedicated public servant, I will continue to work in all communities to improve the quality of life for Jersey City residents.”

RELATED: The next step: Jersey City mayor Steven Fulop sets his sights on year two, while others ponder his future

On Oct. 7, the Jersey Journal reported that Akil was speaking at Northwestern University in 1995 when he “repeatedly” used a homophobic slur, called the Pope the “Antichrist” and said that “all white people have a little Hitler in them.” The story said he was about 25 at the time and was speaking at an African Mind Liberation Conference held by the school’s black student alliance, citing a newspaper account from the Daily Northwestern.

At the time, Fulop stood by Akil.

“Personally, as the grandson of Holocaust survivors myself, they are offensive,” he said of the remarks in a statement to the Jersey Journal. “However, I also know people change and grow over time and the comments made 20 years ago is not consistent nor reflective of the person I have known for the last 10 years who has never hesitated to help people in need whether white, black, Jewish, Catholic, gay or straight.”

Mark Albiez, Fulop’s deputy chief of staff since he was sworn in as mayor last summer, will take over Friday as chief of staff, city officials said in a statement Thursday. He has held several roles working for Hudson County elected officials since 2003 and previously worked as chief of staff to state Sen. Brian Stack.


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