New Jersey's governor accused a Facebook group's page of being anti-Semitic. Facebook shut it down

NJ Gov. Phil Murphy helps in getting a Facebook group's page shut down.

(CNN)The Facebook page for a group named Rise Up Ocean County was taken down Wednesday after New Jersey officials accused them of featuring "racist and anti-Semitic statements."

The page's removal comes 10 months after the state's Division on Civil Rights alerted Facebook of it.
"Since then, we've consistently and repeatedly made clear our view that the page appeared to violate Facebook's terms of service," Gov. Phil Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a joint statement. "We appreciate that Facebook has now decided that this kind of hateful rhetoric has no place on its platform."
Facebook said it had reviewed the page periodically over the past few months and removed specific posts that violated its rules.
    But "upon further review we have determined this page violates our Community Standards for hate speech and have removed it from the platform, Daniel Roberts, spokesman for Facebook said in a statement to CNN.
    Rise Up Ocean County decried Facebook's move on its website, calling it a "heavy hand on censorship." The group added that an appeal to Facebook was made.
    Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League of New York and New Jersey praised the move.
    "ADL has repeatedly expressed serious concern regarding the anti-Semitic and racist content on this page, which has caused significant fear and distress among members of the Orthodox Jewish Community in New Jersey," Evan R. Bernstein, vice president of ADL's northeast division said in a statement.
    "We commend the efforts by Attorney General Grewal and Governor Murphy to expose and advocate for the removal of this hateful rhetoric from Facebook," Bernstein added.

    The group insists it isn't anti-Semitic

    Rise Up Ocean County describes itself as a group that aims to "preserve and improve the quality of life in Ocean County," according to their website.
    "Rise Up Ocean County was founded on the simple belief that the continued, unchecked growth in Lakewood is contributing to the diminished quality of life in the surrounding communities," its website says.
    Some of the posts on the group's Facebook page raise criticisms of the local government. But many of the posts argued that Lakewood, a township in northeast New Jersey, and its surrounding area were becoming overcrowded, due to the Orthodox Jewish community, according to Asbury Park Press.
    Last February, the group posted a video with a parody of the famous poem titled "First they came..."
    The original poem, written by Martin Niemöller, is a sad confession by the German pastor that he stood silent while the Nazis persecuted socialists, trade unionists and Jews.
    "Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -- because I was not a Jew," the poem reads. "Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me."
    But the video instead replaced those persecuted with "my house," "my board of education" and "my township and county government, but I did not vote, because I was busy that day," according to Asbury Park Press. Rise Up Ocean County eventually deleted the post and apologized.
    According to the letter sent to Facebook by the NJ Division on Civil Rights, some comments made on the page even appeared to incite violence against Orthodox Jews.
    "We need to get rid of them like Hitler did," one comment said, according to the letter. "Start bull-dozing the illegal dwellings, illegal home schools, illegal temples, and so on and re-plant with trees and floral to replace what has been stolen," another comment said.
    In response to Facebook pulling down its page, Rise Up Ocean County said on its website they are forming two legal charters to fight back.
      "Anyone who believed that by killing us on Facebook we would simply slink away into the night, well, they were sorely mistaken," the group said Thursday on its website.
      The group maintains there was "NEVER any hint of anti-Semitism or hate" in its content on Facebook, adding that the governor's actions were "driven by fear of the ever growing voting bloc in Lakewood."