Are teens charged in Lawrence H.S. bias crime getting special treatment?
LAWRENCE (Mercer) — Township police and the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office continue to investigate a suspected bias incident at a Lawrence High School football game about three weeks ago when several black middle school girls were racially insulted and mocked.
Police this week said that the girls were sprayed with some type of fluid but it was not urine, as it was originally believed. Three 17-year-old male students have been arrested and charged as juveniles with bias intimidation and harassment. But some in the community are not satisfied.
Salaam Ismial, director of the National United Youth Council, said it’s disturbing that the juveniles charged in the incident are of Indian descent, which means it’s one minority group exhibiting racist behavior against another.
Tormel Pittman, a co-founder of the Black Parents Organization of New Jersey, said the lack of outrage over what happened is troubling.
“If these young men were of African American descent, I think the outrage would not only come from the Asian community, not only come from the white community, but we would also have outrage from the black community," Pittman said.
He said while the individuals arrested will face certain consequences in Family Court, “what about the justice for the traumatic experience that the kids went through? You know, we need reparation, we need repair.”
When pressed he did not make specific suggestions as to what that repair should be, but he did suggest members of the local Board of Education, the police and the community need to do more “to look at it as if it was their kids coming home with something thrown on them, being called a racial slur.”
He added “they should factor all of that in when it comes to punishment.”
Pittman also said he and other community activists are trying to defy the law of social media.
“Normally, when the situation happens after two or three weeks tops, it’s over. We’re here to tell you we’re standing firm on our advocacy for the children. We’re still vigilant as if it just recently happened.”
Clarence Haynes, who describes himself as a community activist working with at-risk youth, said the underlying problem is systemic racism.
“Jesus Christ says love is the only thing that is going to cure racism. Laws, marches, all of these things don’t work — we have to love one another," he said Wednesday.
Amy Devenny, a deputy first assistant prosecutor in the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, declined to offer comment because the investigation remains active.
The Lawrence Police Department is asking anyone with additional information about the incident to contact Lut. Joseph Lech at 609-896-1111, or firstname.lastname@example.org
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com