CLIFTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A push by Clifton’s Polish community to name part of a park after a late civic leader is drawing the ire of famed civil rights activist and attorney Alan Dershowitz.
“Chester Grabowski was a monster, he was a Hitler-rubbing, Holocaust-denying, anti-Semite,” Dershowitz told 1010 WINS reporter Steve Sandberg. “This is not the kind of man you want to see honored by a good city with good people.”
Grabowski, a publisher of The Post Eagle Polish-American newspaper, died six months ago. He was lauded as a Polish advocate and denied being anti-Semitic during his life.
1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports
The effort to rename part of Richardson Scale Park after Grabowski has caused the accusations of bigotry to resurface.
Dershowitz claims Grabowski made disparaging comments about Jews, minimized the Holocaust and was a Ku Klux Klan sympathizer.
“He was a rampant anti-Semite, I mean, he’s a Ku Klux Klanner. You just don’t honor David Duke, Adolf Hitler and you don’t honor Chester Grabowski,” Dershowitz said. “They ought to name a garbage dump after him or a sewer after him.”
Grabowski’s son, city councilman Matthew Grabowski, calls the attacks personal, stemming from a decades-old feud between Dershowitz and his father.
“The accusations are very intense, very hurtful and there’s nothing to substantiate those,” Grabowski said. “History is history. It’s very disturbing and upsetting to me that something like this has to happen.”
Grabowki said residents have been sending letters urging city officials to move forward with the renaming.
“It was a tribute to us to show how many lives my dad has touched,” Grabowski said.
Dershowitz is vowing to lead thousands of protesters if officials approve the renaming.
The controversy has already prompted Congressman Bill Pascrell to withdraw his support for renaming the park.
Grabowski said the council has taken no action.