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The discovery of photos showing Westampton committee candidate Karl Eversmeyer in blackface spurred outrage in the township today, with former Mayor Carolyn V. Chang calling on Eversmeyer to apologize and drop out of the race immediately. Eversmeyer, who confirmed that he is in the photos, explained that he was wearing a Halloween costume in 2009 and refused to drop ut of the contest.
“What I saw in those photos is nothing short of sickening,” Chang said. “There is absolutely no place for racism or hate in Westampton. Mr. Eversmeyer owes the people of this vibrant, multicultural community an explanation for his disgusting behavior.”
The photos previously posted to Republican Eversmeyer’s own Facebook page, depict the 33-year-old in blackface. Chang said the image shows Eversmeyer isn’t fit to lead any municipal government, let alone for a township that boasts a rich African-American history, his opponents assert. Westampton is home to Timbuctoo, a historic village founded by former enslaved and freed African Americans, that provided a key link on the Underground railroad and a close-knit community for African-American Civil War veterans. Eversmeyer said he was at Timbuctoo Day, and donated money.
But the former mayor wasn’t interested.
“Racist behavior is unacceptable in every town. Period. But it’s especially painful in a place like Westampton, where early Quaker settlers defied societal standards and fought for equality since its founding days,” Chang said. “We’ve taken strides to embrace people of all backgrounds, and electing someone like Mr. Eversmeyer could threaten our community’s core values.”
Chang, the past mayor of Westampton and Past President of the Association of Black Women Lawyers of NJ, called this a “repugnant display of racism” and noted “the photo is reminiscence of the type of behavior of Republican operatives in Westampton who once referred to affordable housing in the Township as “little Camden and little Trenton.”
The photos have also drawn the condemnation of current Township Committeeman Tony De Silva, who called them a revolting display of racism that disqualifies Eversmeyer from holding office. “As a person of color I am appalled by these pictures” said De Silva.
“Since Donald Trump’s election, hateful people have felt emboldened and unashamed of their racism. We cannot tolerate that behavior in Burlington County,” he added. “As the famous quote goes, the only thing necessary for evil men to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
Contacted for comment about the photo, Eversmeyer said he was dressed up as Kanye West for Halloween, and attended a party thrown by an African American friend where he and his wife were among the only whites present.
It was 2009.
“Our costumes were based on the time when Kanye West took the trophy from Taylor Swift,” Eversmeyer told InsiderNJ. “My wife dressed up as Taylor Swift and I dressed up as Kanye West.
“I won the contest,” the committee candidate noted. “His friends were kind of upset with me. They weren’t upset because I was in blackface. They didn’t know I was white, and they wondered why I should win. The whole blackface controversy, it only seems to bother people when Republicans do it. I tend to like black people more than white people. They tend to be more direct. It wasn’t a racist statement at all. Liberals are saying ‘he’s making fun of black people by drinking Hennessy. I drank Hennessy in college.”
Eversmeyer said he plans to run through the finish line, in this torque point town within the framework of the battleground 8th Legislative District.
“No, I have no intention of dropping out,” he said.
Eversmeyer noted that incumbent Democratic Mayor John Wisniewski is up on Nov. 5th, and he’s running against the mayor’s slate.
“They’re trying to do anything they can to protect him because he hasn’t put up a sign or walked a step in the neighborhood,” the Westampton candidate said. “Instead of spending money, they’ll try to claim I’m a racist.”
Eversmeyer owns his own recruiting firm. He said he’s running to offer the people of his town an option besides those who are politically connected.
“If you would like to help out, you don’t have to be part of the MUA [Municipal Utilities Authority],” he said. “I enjoy helping people. I’m an Eagle Scout. I’ve done countless community service hours. Talk to any of my friends who are African American or Latino. I don’t like to use those ethic cards. I see people as American.
“I know they would love me to drop out over a halloween costume,” Eversmeyer added, “but that’s not going to happen.”
LD8 Democratic Assembly candidates LaPlaca and Natale called on the GOP to disavow Eversmeyer, while LD8 GOP Assemblyman Peters and running mate Stanfield condemned Eversmeyer, while chiding their opponents’ ‘selective outrage’. The Burlington County GOP has pulled their support from the candidate, who said ‘does this mean I can stop putting out their signs??‘