Police in Jackson, New Jersey have launched an investigation into the appearance of multiple swastikas on electricity poles in Johnson Park.
“I am deeply saddened to learn about this latest act of hate and stupidity,” Mayor Mike Reina told Lakewood Alerts in a statement.
“Police reports have been made, and they are being investigated. I’ve said it before, and sadly, I have to say it again, “hate had no home in Jackson”. We intend to prosecute all acts of hate and terror to the fullest extent of the law.”
Reina is currently serving his fourth term in office as mayor of the fourth-largest town in Ocean County.
One week ago, Ocean County Prosecutor Brad Billhimer ordered the deployment of an “anti-hate” trailer in the community.
Some residents objected to the move, claiming there is no antisemitism in Jackson, Lakewood Alerts reported.
But clearly, there is.
History of Hate?
This past June, antisemitic graffiti was found at the site of a soon-to-be-built facility for Chai Lifeline in Jackson. The Jewish-owned health support organization provides programs and services to children and families of all religions who are dealing with life-threatening children’s illnesses.
“Is this for Jews” and other hateful messages were spray-painted on the lumber at the site. Police are investigating.
Just a few days earlier on June 5, 2023, swastikas were painted on 14 homes and another home under construction was burned in nearby Manchester. Ron Carr was subsequently charged with the hate, believing the homes were owned by Jews, according to Billhimer.
As he did this month, Reina condemned the incident in a statement to New Jersey’s Radio 101.5.
“They actually take care of these children, the siblings, when the other children or family member is being taken care of, whether it’s a hospice situation, treatment therapy, surgeries, mostly for cancer. I was livid that someone would actually put religious hatred towards this. You don’t even understand what they do,” the mayor said.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of New York and New Jersey expressed its thanks in a tweet to “local authorities’ and community members’ condemnation of this act of hate.”
As far back six years ago, swastikas have been found at sites in Jackson, New Jersey.
In November 2017, a swastika was found scrawled in the mulch at Woodland Park. In late October the same year, a swastika was spray-painted on to a police car that was parked at a repair shop in neighboring Plumsted, according to NJ.com.
In 2019, a Jewish home in the community was vandalized with broken windows, spray-painted swastikas, and antisemitic phrases, including the word “Hitler” in large letters. Inside the home, which was set to be demolished, furniture was spray-painted with swastikas and the phrase, “Go Home.”
Jackson Township Police investigated the incident as a bias crime.
A Jewish-owned business in the community was likewise spray-painted in February 2020 with a large blue swastika and the words, “White Power.” The business was owned by a Jewish family living in nearby Lakewood.
Ocean County resident Virginia Mailloux, 40, was subsequently charged with the hate crime.
Jackson Township Settles Lawsuit Over Anti-Orthodox Jewish Discrimination
Jackson Township settled with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office over its lawsuit alleging anti-Orthodox Jewish discrimination, it was announced Monday, August 28, 2023.
The settlement includes several key provisions, including one that requires Jackson to set zoning laws that would allow for shul, according to a report by Lakewood Alerts.
The town of Jackson was sued twice over its rejection of two development plans for Orthodox Jews in the community.
In December 2019, the Jackson Leaks news outlet reported that the US Department of Justice and the New Jersey Attorney General had both requested documents from Jackson in an investigation into the township’s land use laws, with a renewed request earlier in the year.
The subpoena arrived soon after the mayor and council decided to walk away from an agreed-upon settlement of a lawsuit brought by Agudath Israel over laws banning schools and dormitories.
The town also denied an application for a synagogue that was fully compliant with Jackson’s zoning laws, according to Jackson Leaks.
The lawsuit now appears to have been settled, at least with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.