‘White nationalist’ arrested after LGBT attack in Asbury Park, group says
ASBURY PARK — A Scotch Plains man sporting a T-shirt with a symbol often used by white supremacists was arrested Sunday night after witnesses say he attacked a woman with chemical spray.
It is the latest display of bigotry in one of the most diverse communities in the state. Last week, racist and anti-Semitic leaflets attributed to a white supremacist group were posted on Cookman Avenue and Main Street.
The victim on Sunday was among a group of gay, lesbian and transgender volunteers and allies making signs on Ocean Avenue for a Labor Day rally against hate the next morning.
Witnesses say two young men approached the group and one of them "expressed his disgust and he said you all are taking away my rights as a white person," said Christian Fuscarino, leader of the Garden State Equality civil rights group, which is one of 50 sponsors of the Monday morning rally.
Fuscarino, who did not witness the attack, said the man eventually took out a can of chemical spray and used it on one of the volunteers. The man fled the scene but was soon captured by city police, witnesses say.
A photo posted on Facebook shows the man being arrested. He is wearing a T-shirt with Pepe the Frog, a symbol used by white supremacists online. The T-shirt says, "For those about to MAGA, we salute you!" — a reference to Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan.
Police said Morris May White, 22, of Scotch Plains, was charged with aggravated assault and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.
Sgt. Michael Casey, a spokesman for the police department, said police were called to 1100 Ocean Ave. about 7:29 p.m. He described the incident as a "confrontation" between the man and the person he pepper-sprayed.
Fuscarino said police helped the woman clean her eyes.
"After a few hours, she was back to normal. At least physically," he said.
The attack happened in one of the most LGBT-friendly communities in the state. But it's not the only anti-LGBT incident this year. In March, the glass door of Garden State Equality's headquarters was damaged by two men. The LGBT rainbow flag had been attached to the door.
"I consider Asbury Park to be one of the few LGBT safe havens in New Jersey," Fuscarino told New Jersey 101.5. "It's extremely discouraging that an event like this took place. But I am confident that love and solidarity and understanding is always stronger than extremism and hate."
The "Stand Against Hate Rally" was scheduled to start 10 a.m. at Springwood Avenue Park. It was organized in response to the deadly violence sparked by the Unite the Right rally last month in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Asbury Park rally is also supported by local officials, the local NAACP chapter and a Black Lives Matter group.
Fuscarino said police "have been very helpful and going above and beyond to make sure everyone is safe in Asbury Park."
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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