City, state officials criticize judge's comment about Allentown turning into 'cesspool'


A Lehigh County judge is under fire after saying violence has turned the city of Allentown into a "cesspool."

Judge James Anthony made his comments after sentencing 27-year-old Joshua Colon to up to 56 years in prison Tuesday for killing a man near an Allentown nightclub in 2017.

On Wednesday, city and state legislators sounded off.

"Words matter when you're an elected official," said Democratic State Rep. Peter Schweyer, who represents Allentown. "Our city deserves elected officials who are going to rally around the city and not take cheap shots."

"To refer to this city, to the residents of this city as a cesspool it's over the top. It's unbecoming and it's certainly unbecoming from a Lehigh County judge to say from the bench," said Democratic State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, who serves Lehigh County.

Schlossberg and Schweyer, along with Republican State Sen. Pat Browne and Democratic Allentown Interim Mayor Ray O'Connell, came together Wednesday to write an op-ed in the Morning Call.

"You can't let comments like that go unchallenged because they change the narrative," said Schlossberg.

The narrative that some could paint has to do with the recent uptick in violence. There have more than two dozen shootings in the city since the beginning of June. Schlossberg says you can't ignore the trend but Allentown isn't as bad as other cities.

"Few days after one of the more recent shootings there was a take back the streets rally that 300 people, elected officials, police officers and community members attended. That doesn't happen in cities that are cesspools," he said.

69 News spoke to Browne on the phone, who called the comment "unfortunate and inflammatory and does not reflect the circumstances in Allentown." Browne said he's "hopeful the judge reconsiders."

"At the very least, Judge Anthony owes 125,000 of his constituents, the people that pay his salary, the taxpayers that pay his salary an apology," said Schweyer.