Edison Council begins own investigation into racist flier

EDISON — Another election has come and gone, but that is not stopping the investigation into who is responsible for distributing the racist flier mailed during the 2017 Board of Education campaign season.

The Township Council has instructed Township Attorney William Northgrave to gather all available information on the racist flier and prepare a report. Northgrave said he hopes to have the report before the council in December.

“Conclusions can be drawn from [the report] and perhaps we can meet in closed session and discuss where we go from there,” Northgrave said at a council meeting on Nov. 8.

The 2017 election season took an offensive tone when a racist flier was distributed by mailing on Oct. 31, 2017. The faces of the two Board of Education candidates, Jerry Shi and Falguni Patel, who are of Asian descent, were accompanied by the statement “Make Edison Great Again” and the word “Deport” under their faces.

The incident garnered national attention.

The Township Council had approved a resolution during a meeting on Sept. 12 in support of the New Jersey Attorney General’s (AG) Office efforts to bring “criminal charges” against the individual(s) who participated in the preparation and/or dissemination of the flier.

Shortly after the resolution, Northgrave said he sent a letter to the AG’s office advising them of the council’s resolution. And more recently, he sent another letter advising the AG’s office the council would proceed with its own investigation.

“I haven’t heard anything back from the Attorney General’s Office,” he said.

Councilman Robert Diehl, who called on Northgrave to start the council’s investigation, has expressed his dissatisfaction with the law enforcement investigation.

“I think we have given the AG’s office enough time,” Diehl said. “We have people coming and testifying on TV and people presenting people with physical evidence. A year goes by and nothing.”

Diehl said they will continue to pursue the matter.

“If the AG’s office is not going to give us anything, then we will meet and decide on our own plan,” he said. “Many of us believe strongly about this and we are not going to let this go and be yesterday’s newspaper and forget about it.”

Edison Police Chief Thomas Bryan had said the investigation is in the hands of the AG’s office. Peter Aseltine, public information officer for the attorney general, said the office’s policy “is that we neither confirm nor deny investigations.”