Driver, passengers charged with harassment, bias intimidation in Jackson

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JACKSON – Two teenagers and one adult have been charged with harassment and bias intimidation following their alleged involvement in an incident on Louisiana Parkway in Jackson on Sept. 14.

According to the Jackson Police Department, on Sept. 14 at 10:50 a.m., officers responded to Louisiana Parkway to investigate a report of a bias incident. Upon arrival, the officers were told that two Jewish men were standing near the curb in front of a home when a passing vehicle swerved at them and forced them to jump onto the curb to safety.

As the vehicle was passing, the male occupants were reported to have been yelling obscenities and insults in reference to the men’s religion.

The male driver continued down the street, turned and came back, and swerved at the two men a second time as the occupants again yelled obscenities and insults. A neighbor who witnessed the incident called police.

One of the two men targeted by the driver reached out to the Tri-Town News to describe what had occurred on Louisiana Parkway. He asked that his name not be published.

“I was standing about two feet into the street, talking to a gentleman and we had just crossed the street. We had not (yet) walked onto the sidewalk. We were wearing our prayer shawls, we had just returned from prayers, and a black Cadillac pulled into the neighborhood off of South New Prospect Road,” he said.

“From halfway across the street, (the driver) sees us, speeds up and swerves toward us. We jumped onto the curb. I was focusing on the license plate, I think there were three young white men in the car.

“I heard (a vulgar comment) and they continued along the road. About six or seven houses down, I saw them make a sharp U-turn and they came speeding back … toward us. We were on the curb and they just slowed down for a second,” the man said.

He said he heard the word “Hitler.”

“I would assume they said ‘Heil Hitler,’ but I did not hear anything more. I was focusing on staying safe and on the license plate because on Saturday we do not carry phones and we did not have paper and a pen. I memorized the plate and then they sped off. I was obviously shaken up,” he said.

“The lady whose house we were in front of was standing outside and she was horrified. She asked if we were OK and if there was anything she could do,” the man said. “My opinion, unfortunately, is that when you have an environment as hostile as it is now … it was expected to happen eventually. I am just happy no one was hurt.”

Police said Officer Stephen Cilento investigated the incident and was able to identify the driver after being provided with the vehicle’s license plate number. Three male residents of Jackson were charged in connection with the incident.

According to police, the teenage male driver was initially charged with harassment and bias intimidation. Charges of simple assault for an attempt by physical menace to put another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury were subsequently lodged against the driver. Police said the case would be forwarded to Family Court.

Police said a teenage male passenger was charged with bias intimidation and harassment and an adult male passenger was charged with bias intimidation and harassment.