Many are calling for Jersey City Councilwoman Amy DeGise to resign after videos surfaced of the councilwoman allegedly hitting a biker and driving away. On the morning of July 19th, the city’s cameras showed Councilwoman DeGise appearing to enter the intersection on Martin Luther King Drive and Forrest Street where she struck a biker who was thrown into the street. Now, despite growing calls to resign, a spokesperson for Councilwoman DeGise says she will finish out her term.
The biker, identified as Andrew Black, was making an Uber Eats delivery when he was hit. Though Andrew initially said that he had the green light, the video footage shows that the light was red when Andrew entered the intersection. Despite having had the green light and the right to go, Councilwoman DeGise failed to stop after hitting Andrew. She also failed to report the accident to the authorities at the time of the incident. In the footage, Andrew is seen limping to the side of the road, where bystanders gathered to help him.
Screenshot from the CCTV video, publicly released on July 26th
Councilwoman DeGise received municipal court summonses following the incident once the police were able to identify that the car in the CCTV video was registered to her. The two summonses she received were for failure to report the accident and for fleeing the scene. Some sources are saying Councilwoman DeGise claims she hit her head during the accident, and upon realizing what had happened, she retroactively reported the incident.
Andrew Black’s injuries, according to the police report, appear to mostly be on his ankle and leg — and while he didn’t suffer any major physical damage, he says that he hasn’t been able to work due to his physical condition, according to CBS.
Per NJ.com, Councilwoman DeGise issued a statement about the incident where she admitted her involvement. “I acknowledge this unfortunate event yesterday and I’m thankful that no one was seriously hurt,” Councilwoman DeGise said. “While the traffic summons that was issued is dealt with in court, I will not be able to make any additional comment at this time.”
Public Response + Calls to Resign
After the video was released publicly on July 26th, public backlash began as many demanded Councilwoman DeGise resign for the way the whole incident was handled. On Tuesday of this week, a change.org petition surfaced, titled, “Councilwoman DeGise Must Resign NOW.” The petition was started by Megan Carolan and is directed to Mayor Fulop and the other council members.
“Amy DeGise, at-large Councilmember, hit a cyclist at speed and then left the scene,” the petition reads. “Video footage shows us she made no effort to avoid the cyclist, to slow down after impact, or to stop to check on him and file a police report. The cyclist running the red light does not change anything about DeGise’s responsibility to the victim and to the law.”
The petition goes on to call for her resignation, citing her abandoning the scene as evidence that she is unfit to “put the well-being of residents first.”
As of July 28th, the petition had reached 570 signatures.
This petition is not the only public call for Councilwoman DeGise’s resignation. Two of the councilwoman’s fellow council members are speaking out for her to step down.
“Leaving the scene of a crash is illegal,” Ward E Councilman James Solomon said this week, according to Patch. “Doing so demonstrated a callous disregard for the life and health of the victim she hit. Public servants must be held to a higher standard. While Councilmember DeGise is entitled to forgiveness and her day in court, both should come as a private citizen. She should resign. If she fails to do so, she should be recalled.”
On the heels of this statement, Ward F Councilman Frank Gilmore came out with a statement of his own on Twitter. “After carefully reviewing the CCTV footage, considering a council member hit an individual with her SUV, and left the scene without checking on the individual, [I] am calling for the resignation of Council member DeGise,” Councilman Gilmore said. “These behaviors are not indicative of someone in elected office.”
After carefully reviewing the CCTV footage, considering a council member hit an individual with her SUV, and left the scene without checking on the individual am calling for the resignation of Council member DeGise. These behaviors are not indicative of someone in elected office. pic.twitter.com/KcCysAvoWB
— Frank Educational Gilmore (@EducationalGil1) July 27, 2022
Amidst the calls to step down, a spokesperson for Councilwoman DeGise has publicly stated that she plans to finish out her term. Per Patch, Spokesman Phil Swibinski released this statement on July 29th:
“Councilwoman DeGise was elected overwhelmingly just a few months ago and she has no intention of walking away from the commitment she made to serve the people of Jersey City. She will not resign and plans to complete her full term and continue in public service.”
He continued, “Amy recognizes the calls that have been made for additional information and transparency. She would very much like to address this situation more comprehensively, but there is a legal process that must play out first and she will not be making any additional public comment at this time.”
Meanwhile, a rally was called on July 30th at Newark Avenue Plaza to demand that the councilwoman resign.
For those incensed about Amy DeGise’s refusal to resign, there’s a rally tomorrow at 3 PM. pic.twitter.com/9hN6X7JvM5
— Matt “Hit-and-Run is in fact a crime” da Silva🚰🥑 (@mdasilva1563) July 29, 2022
In response to the backlash, per Hudson Reporter, Councilwoman DeGise recently filed a police report saying she’s been getting harassed and receiving death threats. Based on how that investigation goes, the councilwoman may receive police protection if it’s deemed she is in danger.