STATEMENT OF JUAN CARTAGENA, LATINOJUSTICE PRLDEF ON THE PASSING OF TOM OLIVIERI OF HOBOKEN, NJ
This week saw the passing of a great humanitarian, community activist and public servant from Hoboken, New Jersey, Tom Olivieri. The Puerto Rican Legal Defense & Education Fund – now known as LatinoJustice PRLDEF – had a great supporter in Tom Olivieri in all matters that affected the largely Puerto Rican community of that city, for decades. Hoboken has had numerous makeovers in its long history and there are few people today that remember that in the 1970s the city’s population was close to 50% Puerto Rican. Many people in Hoboken had a hand in helping that working-class community and Tom was definitely one of them.
From housing and displacement challenges, to meaningful education outcomes, instilling cultural pride, hiring at City Hall and the Board of Education, electing Puerto Rican officials and creating the space to appoint Puerto Rican judges, Tom was a steady hand with his intelligence, his grace and his determination. One of my last images of Tom was of his fierce determination in opposition to the Navy bombing of Vieques, Puerto Rico during our protests throughout Hudson County. His presence validated our efforts which were eventually successful. On behalf of LatinoJustice PRLDEF I extend my condolences to his family.