Bias Incident in Swainton

February 4, 2020

Cape May Court House, New Jersey – Cape May County Prosecutor Jeffrey H. Sutherland announces the Middle Township Police Department reported a racial, white supremacist slur was discovered on January 31, 2020, painted on a telephone pole, located on a utility power access road, in the Swainton neighborhood of Middle Township. Middle Township Police took immediate steps to remove/obscure the racist slur. The public creation/display of such a racial slur is known as a “bias incident”; which is defined as a negative act which occurs to a person, private property or public property on the basis of race, color, religion, gender identity or expression, national origin or ethnicity.

New Jersey has a specific bias crime criminal statute that provides that a “person is guilty of a crime of bias intimidation if he commits, attempts to commit, conspires to commit, or threatens the immediate commission of …” certain criminal offenses (.e.- theft, assault, property damage, homicide, etc.) “with the purpose to intimidate an individual or group of individuals because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity”. As of now, the racial slur that was found in Swainton is considered a “bias incident” although there is an ongoing investigation. It is important that any bias incident is reported to local law enforcement even if you do not believe it was a “bias crime”.

Chief of Detectives Paul Skill of the Cape May County Prosecutor’s office states; “We have zero tolerance for bias crimes in Cape May County. Law enforcement needs to know about any such incident (whether or not it is a crime) to first make sure that any victim’s needs are addressed, to assure the public that law enforcement will act when there is any bias incident or crime and that any perpetrators are found and criminal charged.”

County Prosecutor Jeffrey H. Sutherland states; “We need to know about any bias incidents to provide law enforcement with an accurate picture of activities that even if they are not currently a crime – they could lead to crimes in the future; or be evidence of hate groups in our community or being organized in our community and planning or engaged in potential bias crimes.”

If you are a victim of or witness a bias incident or bias crime in Cape May County report the incident to your local police by dialing 911, or contacting the Cape May County Prosecutor’s office (609) 465-1135, ex. 3331 or the New Jersey Department of Criminal Justice Bias Crime Tip line (800) 277-BIAS(2427).