Hoboken Vaped as First Amendment concerns take center stage

The drama of the Vape Van and the verbal altercation between a Hoboken resident and a Hispanic delivery driver is over after the City Council approved a settlement agreement last night.

The agreement will allow the owner of the Vape Van to retain use of a Hoboken business license upon completion of an anger management and diversity class schedule.

Vape Van owner Joe Ruggiero

Some details emerging from the discussion came out about the incident and succeeding criminal disorderly person complaints have apparently been filed by both parties. The owner Joe Ruggiero appeared with his family and scores of friends many of them Hispanic. He said the mother of his two children is African-American and Puerto Rican and the comments were said in the heat of an altercation over a parking spot.

Not captured on the video where a Hispanic driver was seen being called “immy,” is an allegation where Ruggiero claimed those inflammatory comments came after the driver called him and a friend “blanquitos pendejos,” Spanish for “dumb white boys.”

The outcome was more surprising not in the effort to retain the business license with the City of Hoboken but in the public reaction at the meeting and details surrounding the controversy when part of the street altercation was captured on video.

The Hoboken public who turned out to speak on the matter were First Amendment focused. Much of the comments not connected to the friends and family of Ruggiero however were displeased with both the remarks on the video and the public pronouncements by city officials. Residents felt the First Amendment issue of speech even offensive speech should not be connected to the business license.

Talking Ed Note: Political correctness took it on the chin last night. The settlement eliminated much of the glare over the altercation but the Hoboken public was clear where it stood. Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher proposed an amendment narrowing the settlement and resolution to the parties and eliminating reference direct and indirect on the issue of speech of the public.

Another story will follow on this today.

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