Saturday, June 10, 2006

Hate Crime in New Jersey

Below is an email I got about a hate crime in New Jersey. This isn't something new to the state. The Dotbusters (referring to the bindi worn traditionally by many South Asian women) was a gang started in NJ who would "go to any lengths" to get Indians (or anyone perceived as Indian, I'm sure) out of their neighborhoods. The death of Navroze Mody is one of the most publicized hate crimes around this time. Google for more info, there's a ton.... although i just tried that and it turns out that if you Google Dotbusters and New Jersey, you're likely to get information on this most recent crime, and an allusion to the older ones. Keep looking, it's definitely out there. And any of you who ordered an IASA DVD for this past year's show, Kalakriti, can catch some more information on the short hate crimes video.


Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2006 10:43:08 -0400 (EDT)
From: Sreenath Sreenivasan <ss221@columbia.edu>
To: SAJA E-mail Discussion List <saja-disc@lists.jrn.columbia.edu>
Subject: HATE CRIME: NJ Record on Hindu family targeted

From SAJA E-mail Lists; free sign-ups at http://www.saja.org
[ Sign up for the SAJA Convention, July 13-16:
http://www.saja.org/events/convention2006.html ]

See this story from the town of Wayne, NJ. The writer's e-mail is included
if you want respond to him. Thanks to Hemant Wadhwani -
hemant@unitedcdc.org - for bringing this to my attention. Hemant, BTW, is
a great source on all things NJ if you wish to contact him. He does
amazing nonprofit community work with people in all walks of life and is a
try community leader.

Prof. Sreenath Sreenivasan | sree@sree.net
Dean of Students, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism
http://www.sree.net | http://www.sreetips.com

The Bergen Record
Thursday, June 1, 2006
http://www.bergenrecord.com/page.php?qstr=eXJpcnk3ZjczN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXk0NSZmZ2JlbDdmN3ZxZWVFRXl5Njk0MjM5MSZ5cmlyeTdmNzE3Zjd2cWVlRUV5eTM=

Bigots target Hindu family
By DOUGLASS CROUSE, STAFF WRITER
E-mail: crouse@northjersey.com

We Kill U.
We will Fire your house.
Watch Your Kids.

Those threats and other profanities -- spray-painted on a two-story house in
black and orange and neon green -- are terrorizing a Wayne family of five who
police say have been singled out for their Hindu beliefs and Asian Indian roots.

Since the discovery of the vandalism Saturday afternoon, the couple and their
three children have struggled with the brazen nature of the crime and their
inexplicable status as objects of hate.

The father said his three children are aware of the graffiti but he will not
let them see the words scrawled on the back of the family's house, front steps
and rear patio. He and his wife drive straight into their garage and enter the
home from there.

"They don't understand it," the father said of his two boys, ages 11 and 16,
and 13-year-old daughter. "They were born here [in the United States] and they
go to school here in Wayne. They learn what everybody else does. They don't
feel any different from the next kid."

Such is their fear that the couple, who moved into the new house in the Toms
Lake community in November, asked that their name not be published. Several
times during an interview Wednesday, the couple stopped talking and stared at
cars that had slowed or stopped on the street in front of their house.

Police made the crime public for the first time on Wednesday, while
acknowledging the family also had received a series of hateful letters and
found threats painted on their garage door in January. No one had been arrested
as of late Wednesday.

The family said the letters had arrived in their mailbox over four consecutive
days in late January. They opened the first two, finding different handwriting
in each, but were instructed by police to simply turn over the remaining
letters.

After that, there had been a quiet period, when the family tried to forget it
all.

Then came Saturday.

"It's ruining our lives," the husband said. "My wife can't even sleep at night."

Police said the crime apparently occurred Saturday after 4 p.m. A neighbor got
suspicious when she saw two individuals, described only as dark-haired
teenagers or men in their early 20s, in the victims' back yard. She then saw
the fluorescent paint and called her husband, who urged her to call police.

The neighbor's husband said Wednesday he was stunned when he saw the painted
words, including "I HATE INDIANS" and others targeting Hindus that are too
vulgar to print.

"You can't believe your eyes when you see it," the neighbor said, requesting
anonymity. "I mean, how do you make sense of something like this?"

Mayor Scott Rumana expressed similar disgust.

"Any action like this is not tolerated whatsoever, and I'm appalled that any
individual and any family would be subjected to this kind of treatment," he
said. "We are all neighbors no matter what religious or ethnic background. We
expect people to be understanding and supportive of that position."

About 1,000 Wayne residents reported Asian Indian ancestry in the 2000 Census,
or about 2 percent of the township's population.

News of the hate crime came as a shock to Jyoti Gandhi, a lay Hindu leader and
past president of Arya Samaj of New Jersey, a Hindu group that meets in
Ridgewood. She said she has never felt discrimination in her home of Saddle
River or in the town where she worships.

"I'm very surprised, to say the least, that this would happen here," she said.
But she speculated that many bias crimes against Hindus may go unreported.

"A lot of times the Hindu families don't say anything," she said. "They just
swallow it to keep the peace."

The Wayne couple said they had had no experience with hate speech prior to this
year.

A 42-year-old businessman who was born and raised in Tanzania, the husband
moved to Passaic with his brother and father when he was 17. He married his
wife, a native of Bombay, in India in 1988 and the two started a family in
Clifton.

Since resettling in Wayne, the couple said, they have had no problems with
neighbors and that most had been friendly. The couple has a small Hindu temple
in their house and pray daily, the husband said.

In recent days, the father has tried to remove the graffiti and splashed black
paint from the back walls and patio, but most of the words remain legible.
Police said its removal by professionals could cost thousands of dollars.

Generally, vandals are charged with third-degree criminal mischief if the
damage they cause is more than $500. If such an offense is deemed a hate crime,
it also could result in a second-degree bias intimidation charge. For adult
offenders, second-degree crimes carry a maximum term of 10 years in state
prison.

Asked why the January incidents were not made public at the time, Detective
Capt. Paul Ireland said police had hoped the crimes were isolated instances and
that an arrest would be made quickly.

"We were hoping we would be able to solve it without the public's help," he
said. "At this point we're hoping the public can assist us in finding out who
is responsible for this."

He asked that anyone with information call the Wayne police juvenile bureau at
(973) 633-3540.

Staff Writer Margaret K. Collins contributed to this article.
E-mail:
crouse@northjersey.com

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