NEWARK, N.J. — The board chairman for USA Fencing’s New Jersey Division has resigned after an email critical of Newark’s sanctuary policy.
Gene Costa told NJ.com (http://bit.ly/2vJsg1E ) on Thursday that he resigned from his state post with USA Fencing, the sport’s national governing body based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He also expressed regret for the email.
“Unfortunately, my personal beliefs got in the way of my professional judgment,” he said.
Costa came under fire from fencing coaches, the mayor and others after sending the email July 31 to the Greater Newark Convention and Visitor Bureau, which had reached out to USA Fencing for a New Jersey contact to discuss staging a group event in the city.
Costa says in the email that the division wasn’t interested in holding events in the city because of its sanctuary declaration that provides certain protection to people living in the country illegally. He also criticized state politicians for not passing concealed-gun legislation.
“I in good conscience cannot entertain our organization placing many young people in the state and their families in danger by holding an event in Newark,” he said in the email.
Afterward, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka described the email as “deplorable” and said: “It is truly disheartening that one person’s political views could thwart a valuable opportunity for New Jersey athletes who are involved in the sport of fencing.”
“We’re all mortified,” said Paul Apostol, a division executive committee member who also was on the 1972 and 1976 U.S. Olympic fencing teams.
USA Fencing officials said they do not support Costa’s statement and would be happy to meet with Newark officials to discuss hosting an event there.
The mayor’s office had no comment on Costa’s resignation.
Information from: NJ Advance Media.