Irvington NAACP president chimes in about Burgess v. McDaniel case

IRVINGTON, NJ — The Irvington NAACP has chimed on the case of Municipal Council Vice President Renee Burgess’ formal complaint with the Irvington Police Division against Elouise McDaniel, president of both the Irvington Joint and Nesbit Terrace block associations.

“I talked to Miss McDaniel and I was just surprised that Renee Burgess felt threatened,” said Irvington NAACP President Merrick Harris on Wednesday, Jan. 3. “Miss McDaniel only comes out with the truth. I just can’t see how she felt she was threatened by Miss McDaniel at all. She has a lot to say, but she never tries to threaten or intimidate anybody; she just uses words and the truth.”

Burgess has accused McDaniel of harassment; their first court date in the Irvington Municipal Court had been scheduled for Friday, Jan. 12, after Burgess’ Dec. 18, 2017 complaint against McDaniel for her alleged actions committed at the Dec. 12 Municipal Council meeting.

But when Burgess and McDaniel showed up at the Irvington Municipal Court on Tuesday, Jan. 12, they were informed the case had been moved postponed and moved to the Newark Superior Court.

“It was postponed while they move it from Irvington to Newark,” said McDaniel on Friday, Jan. 12. “We got here in time for our hearing, scheduled for 9 a.m., but they told us to go to the window and, when we got there, they told us that it had been moved to Newark and we would receive notification about a new court date in the mail. Now I have to turn the case over to my lawyer.”

Burgess did not have any comment for the record about the case.

According to the Irvington Police Division, an officer was dispatched to 101 Union Ave., on a harassment report Friday, Dec. 15, 2017.

“Upon arrival, I was met by Councilwoman Renee Burgess, the victim, who stated that, on Tuesday, Dec. 12, at approximately 8 p.m., she was conducting business as usual at the Irvington Town Council meeting,” the police report said. “Victim stated, at the conclusion of the agenda, she posed the question to the audience: ‘Is there anyone who would like to express concerns at this time?’ to which no one responded. Victim stated she posed the question again and, since there were no citizen who raised questions or concerns, the meeting ended at approximately 8:20 p.m.”

According to the police report, Burgess “stated that, moments after the gavel was lowered and the meting officially adjourned, Ms. Elouise McDaniel, the suspect, jumped from her seat and shouted: ‘What are you doing, the meeting isn’t over,’ and proceeded to charge the dais where the victim was sitting.”

“As the suspect charged forward, she continued to shout: ‘I want to talk,’ and directed her eye contact toward her, stating: ‘I’m gonna get you,’ ‘you’re gonna pay,’ ‘I’m gonna get you,’” according to the report. “Victim stated citizens in the audience attempted to calm the suspect down and, although she did exit the building, she remained outside the door for several minutes, shouting: ‘I’m going to get you. You’re going to pay, I’m pressing charges.’ Victim stated she was unable to vacate the Municipal Building for at least 20 minutes, until she was certain the suspect was gone, as she was in fear for her safety.”

According to police, a copy of the surveillance video and council meeting and the resident sign-in sheet for Friday, Dec. 12, were placed into evidence and Burgess “was advised to court for complaint purposes.” According to township clerk Harold Wiener, if any video of the altercation exists, it didn’t come from his office.

“We don’t videotape the meetings,” said Wiener on Tuesday, Jan. 2. “There are security cameras in there but for my purposes they’re not part of the official record. They’re for security reasons only. We verbally record the meetings, we don’t videotape them.”

According to Wiener, the meeting ended earlier than McDaniel and others in the audience were probably accustomed. Council President David Lyons was not present at that meeting, so Burgess served as acting president and ran the meeting.

“The meeting adjourned at 8:07 p.m. It started at 8 p.m., so it was seven minutes long. There was no public participation,” said Wiener on Tuesday, Jan. 2. “There were 35 resolutions total; 32 were on the consent agenda, two were on the non-consent agenda and one was a walk-on that got defeated because it only had four affirmative votes and, according to law, it needs five super affirmative votes to pass. There were three resolutions that weren’t on the consent agenda. They took three roll call votes. Two members were absent. Council member (Vern) Cox and Council member Lyons were absent.”

Irvington Public Safety Director Tracy Bowers confirmed that Burgess had filed a formal complaint against McDaniel with the Irvington Police Division.

“I can confirm that a criminal complaint has been lodged, which needs to be adjudicated in court,” said Bowers on Tuesday, Jan. 2. “In the meantime, a police officer will be in attendance at the caucus and council meetings, to make sure that everyone is safe. Please note that a police officer at the council meeting is customary. However, at the time of this incident, the assigned police officer had not gotten there yet.”

Weiner said the fact that the meeting only last eight minutes might explain why the police officer assigned to provide security at the meeting was not on site when the alleged incident occurred.