Swastika found spray-painted on Clay Field playground

GLEN RIDGE, NJ — Glen Ridge Police Chief Sean Quinn announced Sept. 29 that the department is investigating vandalism at Clay Field in which an unknown person spray-painted a swastika at the playground.

“On Tuesday, Sept. 28, at approximately 4:30 p.m., the Glen Ridge Police Department became aware of a culturally derogatory symbol that had been spray-painted on borough property at Clay Field. After learning of the incident, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Bias Crimes Unit was notified,” Quinn said. “The Glen Ridge Police Department is currently investigating the matter in conjunction with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. At this point in the investigation, it appears that, although the derogatory symbol is extremely offensive towards several groups of people, the evidence does not indicate that any one individual person was targeted.”

Quinn asks that anyone with information about this incident contact Detective Sgt. Daniel Manley at 973-748-5400, ext. 115.

“We have been notified by the Glen Ridge Police Department consistent with the Attorney General guidelines on these matters. It is an active investigation handled by the local police,” ECPO spokesperson Katherine Carter told The Glen Ridge Paper on Oct. 5. “It does not rise to the level of a bias crime because there was no intimidation. What occurred is considered criminal mischief.”

Carter added that no suspect has been identified at this time.

The day after Quinn discussed the vandalism, Mayor Stuart K. Patrick and the Glen Ridge Borough Council released a joint statement in which they urged anyone with information to come forward and called for the community to unite against hate.

“We are saddened and angered to hear of the ugly antisemitic vandalism that appeared on our local playground. The swastika is a symbol of hate and violence and has no place in the global community, and we are outraged that it has emerged here, in our community, and on a playground. The symbols of antisemitism are threatening and painful. We condemn this action,” they said.

“This act of vandalism demonstrates that we must remain unified in our response to these very real acts of hate — they must be called out, condemned and stopped. No individual or group should be subjected to hate crimes or harassment or fear,” they continued. “As mayor and council, we stand together to reject hate-filled symbols and actions. We do not tolerate antisemitism, racism, harassment or violence in any form, directed towards any members of the community.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League, its most recent audit of antisemitic incidents in the United States recorded more than 2,100 acts of assault, vandalism and harassment, an increase of 12 percent from the previous year. According to the ADL, this is the highest level of antisemitic incidents since ADL’s tracking began in 1979. A 2021 ADL survey found that 63 percent of American Jews had witnessed or experienced some form of antisemitism in the past five years.