Skylands Tea Party President and New Jersey Department of Transportation employee, William Hayden, continues to show blatant disregard for the health and safety of law enforcement officers, healthcare workers, and citizens.
Mr. Hayden proudly protested at today’s Reopen NJ event in Trenton despite being warned of the dangers of violating the shelter-in-place order and social distancing rules, when he attempted to hold his own protest in Sussex County on Saturday, April 18th.
At today’s protest in our state’s capitol, Mr. Hayden was accompanied by other members of the Skylands Tea Party and the “Sons of Liberty,” a chapter of a pro-militia group with large portions of its members connected to known white supremacist groups and organizations.
Mr. Hayden and other members of his chapter of the “Sons of Liberty” are also members of the “Oath Keepers,” a group that in 2016 New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness deemed a “domestic terrorist threat.”
Inexplicably, none of which has prevented our State Assemblymen, the Sussex County Board of Freeholders, and many other local elected officials from openly working with him and attending his events.
As reported in the New Jersey Herald, local police departments were notified of Mr. Hayden’s April 18th protest at the currently closed public park in Newton, and they informed him that he would be arrested if he went through with it. In response, Assemblyman Parker Space offered the parking lot of Space Farms Zoo and Museum as a location to hold the protest. They repeatedly were told they would be risking the lives of others, including those of law enforcement officers. Despite extreme public backlash from Sussex County residents and healthcare workers, it was the Wantage police waiting to arrest Mr. Hayden that caused him to call off the event. Hayden told the reporter that he planned on attending today’s rally.
Mr. Hayden not only attended today’s rally but exploited the Holocaust to encourage others to join him. In response to Governor Murphy’s COVID-19 briefing yesterday, Mr. Hayden posted a meme he created featuring an image from the Holocaust that reads, “GOV MURPHY’S PLAN, ALL THOSE THAT TEST POSITIVE WILL BE TAKEN TO A SAFE PLACE TO QUARANTINE...SOUND FAMILIAR.”
There was one particularly gruesome exchange between Mr. Hayden and a commenter on another post from yesterday that managed to equate the current shelter-in-place order to the Holocaust while simultaneously mocking it.
Commenter: Get on the train, Bill. It’s a great place where we will give you a neat tattoo, a cute grey outfit and you will have tons of friends share room and board…
William Hayden: jeez, sounds like a blast till they take you to the giant pizza oven
Commenter: Ok everybody, we are all going to form a line and play “Toasty, toasty, crispie crunchy” It’s like a big Ole tanning bed, feels good because the weather has been so brrrrr!
Mr. Hayden included “laugh” emojis in his response to the two comments.
The post that led to this exchange is a selfie of himself with the caption, “Sitting here pondering the insanity......"for the good of the people"...."we will take you to a safe place".....holy crap, history is repeating, and so many are asleep at the wheel.”
We all share concerns about the economy and the future of New Jersey. However, what we do not share and must stop, is Hayden’s persistent disregard for the safety of our local law enforcement, emergency responders, and healthcare heroes. His actions are not just misguided, they are reckless and life-threatening.
If our livelihoods and rights were truly a concern like Mr. Hayden claims, then he would be asking the Sussex County Office of Emergency Management why we still do not have our own testing site or volunteering his time to aid healthcare workers, instead of grandstanding his own agenda against the Governor.