Resident charged following bias incident in Jackson

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JACKSON – A resident of Jackson has been charged with bias intimidation following a police investigation into what has been deemed an incident of anti-Semitic graffiti at a business in the community.

Jackson police said a 40-year-old woman was charged with criminal mischief, trespassing and bias intimidation. She was released on a summons and the case is pending court.

On Feb. 13, police officers responded to B&B Tent and Party Rentals, Progress Place, off Cedar Swamp Road, to investigate a report of anti-Semitic graffiti on the property, according to police.

Investigating officers observed the phrase “White Power” spray-painted on the side of a trailer which was facing a wooded area away from the business.

Police said the officers found a swastika – a symbol associated with Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews and other groups of people – and other markings painted on a fence around a garbage bin at the property.

As the investigation progressed, the business owner reviewed security footage and watched video from the previous weekend which showed a vehicle entering the property during the evening when the business was closed.

Police said individuals could be seen getting out of the vehicle to go into garbage bins, specifically in the area of the garbage bin and trailer where the graffiti was eventually found.

Detectives continued the investigation and were able to identify the female driver of the vehicle. On Feb. 20, detectives responded to the woman’s Jackson residence and arrested her, according to police.

Police said observations were made of spray-painted markings at the woman’s residence that were similar to the markings that were observed at the business in a similar paint color.

Police said paint splatter on the suspect vehicle was similar in color to the paint which was used in the incident at the business. The vehicle was impounded pending potential forfeiture proceedings.

As of Feb. 24, detectives were seeking to identify a second person who was observed at B&B Tent and Party Rentals, but who was not clearly identified in the video footage.

In reacting to news of the incident, Mayor Michael Reina said, “Jackson has zero tolerance for bias of any kind. We have not and will not tolerate such acts, period.

“Jackson is a diverse and inclusive community that stands firm against illegal and unacceptable actions such as this despicable event of bias graffiti and related crimes. The culprits were just charged and we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.

Township Council President Barry Calogero said, “the mayor and council’s commitment to our residents’ safety is second to none.”

Reina said new technology was employed in the case.

“A new tool has recently been deployed,” the mayor said. “To further our commitment to law and order, an encrypted, anonymous reporting system is now available to everyone. This app is called ‘STOPit’ and residents may download it at the App Store or Google Play.

“Working together, we continue to ensure Jackson remains the best place to live, work and raise a family,” Reina said.