Someone drew a swastika and racist graffiti inside a classroom in Bergen County yesterday. Police are investigating.
The incident marks at least the ninth time in less than a year such graffiti has been found in New Jersey schools, according to nj.com.
“The markings found in the classroom Monday morning at Emerson Junior-Senior High School “contained derogatory, threatening and racist language, including a swastika,” according to Superintendent Brian P. Gatens. He said in a letter to parents the Emerson Police Department was immediately called,” the web site reported. “The superintendent added the threatening language “did not involve any specific mention of violence or weapons, nor did it target the entire school.”
Gatens’ letter continued, “The district is prepared to levy the greatest possible legal and school-based consequences on the person responsible, noting that such behavior choices tarnish the reputations of the over 1,000 Emerson students who make good choices every day… This event opens the door for you to have important conversations with your children about the expectations that you set at home for how others should be treated.”
Only months ago, in November, swastikas and a racial slur against blacks were discovered inside a restroom at Pascack Hills High in Montvale. Schools Supt. P. Erik Gundersen said district officials had two objectives — educating the public and making sure whoever was responsible pays dearly. “Let me be perfectly clear: A person who marks anything with swastikas or racial slurs is not demonstrating freedom of speech – they are committing both hate and bias crimes,” he wrote.
Only California, with 341 incidents, and New York, with 340, had more occurrences than New Jersey, according to ADL’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents. California was up and New York was down compared with 2017.
“We are deeply troubled and concerned that anti-Semitic incidents continue to occur in our communities with far too much regularity,” said Evan R. Bernstein, ADL’s New York/New Jersey regional director. “No one should ever live with the fear that they will be assaulted or harassed simply because of their religion or faith.”
Almost one-third of the 200 incidents reported in the Garden State in 2018 occurred following the October attack at a Pittsburgh synagogue, where 11 people were murdered in the deadliest attack ever on American Jews, said ADL. There were 208 incidents in 2017, which had represented a 32 percent jump over the year before.
“The focus should be on the fact that the numbers in New Jersey are still high,” Doron Horowitz, senior national security adviser at the Secure Community Network, a consulting agency to major organizations in the Jewish community, told the New Jersey Jewish News. More, he added, bias attacks against Jewish communities and institutions “far exceed” those of other ethnic and religious groups.