HOBOKEN -- Anti-Semitic graffiti was written on a Bloomfield Street building in Hoboken last week, and then this past Sunday morning, a Vietnamese visitor to town was allegedly attacked by a Bayonne man on Washington Street after the man allegedly yelled the anti-Asian slur "chi**k" at him.
Tuesday, Hoboken Councilman Ravi Bhalla released a press release calling the bias incidents "cause for concern."
Bhalla, who chairs the council's Public Safety Committee and is the first person of Asian decent elected to the Hoboken City Council, wrote, "While I certainly hope these incidents are isolated, I am certain of one thing: they are not by any means a reflection of Hoboken and its residents."
But they "must not be tolerated," he added.
His release said:
“On Sunday morning, an Asian man was apparently assaulted and knocked unconscious near First and Newark Streets in Hoboken. According to the police report, the perpetrator of this crime allegedly yelled anti-Asian slurs at the victim, who is of Vietnamese descent. This incident comes on the heels of another incident last week involving anti-Semitic vandalism at the 500 block of Bloomfield Street. Last Wednesday, it was reported that the word “Jew” was spray-painted on the façade of an apartment building with an arrow pointed towards a window, according to a police report.
"While I am concerned that there have been two bias related incidents in Hoboken within one week, the Hoboken Police Department should be commended for classifying and charging each incident as a bias crime. The HPD, in both of these instances as well as prior bias related incidents, have demonstrated a depth of knowledge in the law and procedures involving bias intimidation investigations and charges, and a commitment to bringing such charges where appropriate.
"While I certainly hope these incidents are isolated, I am certain of one thing: they are not by any means a reflection of Hoboken and its residents. One of Hoboken’s assets is its diversity and reputation as a place where people of all backgrounds are welcome and respected. Although these are serious incidents, they are not emblematic of Hoboken and its residents.
"I am confident that the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office will prosecute the incident involving the Asian man as a bias crime if there is a sufficient factual basis to support this charge.
"Earlier this month, in reaction to a suspected bias incident in [Old Bridge, N.J.] resulting in the beating death of a 49 year old Indian American, Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan stated that his office 'remains mindful of the societal aim, as expressed in the state’s bias crime statute, to provide enhanced protection to racial, ethnic and religious minorities. Therefore, the issue of whether or not this crime falls within the ambit of a bias crime will be rigorously investigated and scrutinized.'
"I trust that the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office will apply a similarly rigorous standard."