NJ congressional candidate’s home struck twice by swastika vandals
UNION TOWNSHIP (UNION) — Police are investigating two acts of hateful vandalism targeting a Democratic congressional candidate's home.
Peter Jacob said he woke up Monday morning to find swastikas spray-painted on his house. His yard signs also were vandalized and there appeared to be signs of an attempted entry into the home, he said.
It was the second reported attack in days.
On Friday night, a neighbor called police after swastikas were found on the sidewalk in front of the candidate's home.
Jacob is Indian-American and was raised Christian.
His campaign on Saturday blamed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, and Jacob's opponent in the 7th Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance, in part for the incident, although they did not directly tie the vandalism to any candidate.
"But we believe that the kind of the tone set by Donald Trump at the presidential level flowing to all the down-ticket candidates has kind of allowed for an atmosphere of casual racism to become acceptable," Jacob spokesman Mike Kane said Saturday.
Kane said Monday that Jacob had planned to look into installing security cameras on his property Monday morning before he discovered the fresh vandalism.
The campaign released a picture of the swastikas found Monday.
Kane said the sidewalk swatiskas had been washed away by township workers by the time Jacob arrived home Friday evening.
Lance spokesman Todd Mitchell told New Jersey 101.5 that the congressman had requested to join Jacob at his home Tuesday morning for a news conference in solidarity over the attacks. Over the weekend, Mitchell told PolitickerNJ that the campaign joined "Peter Jacob in condemning this offensive act of vandalism" but rejected "the Jacob campaign’s outrageously false race-baiting attacks against Leonard Lance and his supporters."
Jacob's campaign said Lance's Facebook page had "shared a racist article attempting to link Peter Jacob and the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooter."
The article, published by the conservative site SaveJersey, blasted Jacob for describing Omar Mateen as "an individual who felt challenged by internalized homophobia and had easy access to weapons of mass destruction." Jacob had criticized Lance for "simplistically labeling the act a product of ‘radical Islam.'"
SaveJersey editor Matt Rooney called that "objectively INSANE. Crazily stupid and naive to the point of being beyond a little insulting."
This and another article on the site included a side-by-side picture of a selfie of a preening Mateen and a headshot of a smiling Jacob.
"It's basically trying to conflate Peter and Omar Mateen," Kane said, adding that the articles try to say "Peter sympathizes with terrorism, which is absolutely untrue."
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.