For the second time in less than a week, racially motivated hate speech has been discovered on a bridge and the Princeton Police Department is investigating it as a bias intimidation and criminal mischief incident.
The spray-painted message targeting African Americans was found June 29 on the concrete foundation of the NJ Transit railroad bridge alongside the D&R Canal State Park towpath, police said. NJ Transit was notified and made arrangements to remove the graffiti.
The incident drew swift condemnation from Princeton Councilwoman Leticia Fraga, who is the Princeton Council’s liaison to the town’s Civil Rights Commission and the Human Services Commission. She is also the police commissioner.
Four days earlier on June 25, racially motivated graffiti with derogatory messages toward African Americans was discovered on the underside of a bridge on Poe Road, off Princeton-Kingston Road. The two bridges – on Poe Road and the D&R Canal State Park – are on opposite sides of Princeton.
The latest incident is under investigation by the Princeton Police Department, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office and the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness unit. It was also reported to the New Jersey State Police.
Fraga shared her dismay and disappointment over the incident at the Princeton Council’s June 29 meeting.
“It is disgusting that someone would commit a hateful, racist act like this. There is no place in our community for this behavior and mindset,” Fraga said.
“This makes not one, but multiple racist threats that have been directed at members of our community. An attack on some members of our community is an attack on all of us. We do not – and will not – tolerate racism in any form,” she said.
Fraga said it was “despicable” that anyone would use such language or think that it is permissible to do so. It amounts to hate and intimidation, and “it does not conform to our principles of community,” she said.
The councilwoman made it clear that “our community stands with all who are targeted by hate speech and racist acts. We will not tolerate that type of behavior.”
The Princeton Police Department has launched an investigation into the incident. Anyone with information about the graffiti should call the Princeton Police Department at 609-921-2100.