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'She has no clue': NJ mayor blasts his mom for racist Facebook rant about Koreans

James Rotundo, mayor of Palisades Park, New Jersey, apologized after his 80-year-old mom, Lorraine, went on a racist Facebook rant about Koreans. Rotundo narrowly trails Councilman Christopher Chung, a Korean-American, in the primary race for mayor.
James Rotundo, mayor of Palisades Park, New Jersey, apologized after his 80-year-old mom, Lorraine, went on a racist Facebook rant about Koreans. Rotundo narrowly trails Councilman Christopher Chung, a Korean-American, in the primary race for mayor. Screenshot from ABC7

A mayor in New Jersey is apologizing after his 80-year-old mother posted a racist rant on Facebook.

James Rotundo, mayor of Palisades Park since 2004, wrote that he is "very upset and saddened" after his mother publicly complained about Korean-Americans, who make up the majority of his borough.

"Go to hell PALISADES PARK, let the GD KOREANS have this F'n town," Lorraine Rotundo wrote, as seen in online screenshots posted by ABC7 reporter CeFaan Kim. "All of us AMERICANS are sooooooooooo done!!!!! ... OH, and as soon as I talk to my son, I am going to suggest that only English be spoken in our Boro Hall at least while an AMERICAN is still the MAYOR!!!!!!"

As noted by local outlets, it's not known exactly when or where the comment was posted.

The mayor wrote on Facebook that he is "not defending at all my mother’s comments." He went on to say that "I am proud to represent all of the people of Palisades Park and I respect our Korean residents and all people."

He had harsher words for his mother in an interview with ABC7.

"She has no clue about what really goes on," Rotundo said. "She hasn't left the house in many years. So for her to make those statements is not even close to how she raised me."

He added that his mother now regrets making the comments.

Rotundo narrowly trails City Councilman Christopher Chung, who is Korean, in the democratic primary, according to NorthJersey.com. The two are separated by just 18 votes and provisional ballots will be counted on Monday, and there is no Republican challenger in the general election.

The mayor said his mother is grappling with his possible defeat.

“She’s upset about her son losing," he said in an interview with NorthJersey.com. "I mean it’s a mother trying to defend her son, who loves her son."

Many on his Facebook agreed that she might have just been acting out because of her love.

"She loves u very much is what I got out of it!" wrote one person. "Once a mother always a mother!!! Good Luck"

"Sometimes when we are upset or angry we lash out ranting with words without thinking or filters and Not with our true thoughts or beliefs..." another person commented. "An 81 year old Loving Mom is no exception. I know your mom is kind and did not mean any offense.. She was just being a (protective) MoM..."

Jayne Jun, chairwoman emeritus of Young Korean American Network, told NJ.com that she didn't like how many responded to the incident.

"This really breaks my heart," she said. "It's more upsetting that they are justifying her actions by her age and 'mother's love.'"

And Sarah Kim, of the Korean-American Association of NJ, said she was hurt that some might not view her as an equal citizen.

"Especially hurtful is what she said is, 'We Americans and you Koreans,'" Kim told ABC7. "I am an American as well."

Rotundo told NorthJersey.com that he has done much to show that he respects his Korean-American constituents, including putting up a monument for Korean sex slaves and his decision to run alongside two candidates of Korean descent in the current election.

Despite the mayor's apology, resident Jimmy Chee said he's not sure enough has been done to truly rectify the situation, according to NorthJersey.com.

“Have his mom come down to town hall and next town meeting and publicly apologize and say she is sorry,’’ Chee said. “If this was the Italian community or the African-American community, you would have community leaders like the Rev. Al Sharpton come out immediately have an uproar and say its unacceptable and demand an apology.

"It’s ridiculous that things like this get brushed under the rug.”

This video shot from a car carrying two people, including a Korean-American Air Force veteran, shows another driver making racist gestures at them in Fremont, California, in mid-May.

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