Lakewood Briefs


Increased Police Presence in Ocean County Following Jersey City Attack

In the wake of the deadly attack on a kosher grocery store in Jersey City, Lakewood Township and Ocean County law enforcement announced that the area would be receiving additional patrols and strategic efforts to protect residents.

A spokesman for the Lakewood Police Department said that there would be more police cars on the roads, both marked and unmarked. Over the Shabbos that followed the tragedy, an increased police presence was visible in some areas particularly around large shuls in conspicuous locations.

County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer and county sheriff Michael Mastronardy released a joint statement saying that there would be “an increased presence of law enforcement throughout Ocean County.” They added that at the present time, there was “no specific or credible threat in Ocean County.”

Authorities urged residence to be vigilant and to report any activity they see as suspicious to 911.

NJ Officials Respond to Jersey City Shooting

A wide band of New Jersey elected officials expressed their sorrow and called for policy changes in response to the deadly shooting in Jersey City.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) expressed his grief over the death of the four victims in a statement and also called for stronger action to be taken against anti-Semitic sentiments.

“Early evidence in the investigation suggests that the perpetrators of this appalling crime had at least sympathy for the hate group Black Hebrew Israelites—and is yet another wake-up call like the anti-Semitic slaughter in Pittsburgh that demands we redouble efforts to combat anti-Semitism,” he said.

The Congressman noted that while Jews comprise some two percent of the American population that they are the victims of 57.8 percent of hate crimes according to 2018 FBI statistics. He also noted the strong anti-police sentiment that had been expressed by the killers and called for stronger support for the authorities.

“We must be far more robust in respecting and supporting law enforcement. They are the line of demarcation—the wall—that separates our communities and families from criminal activity, all forms of violence and even anarchy,” he said.

Many other New Jersey officials also released statements condemning the attack. Governor Phil Murphy, who has made many public statements regarding the murders, used his official statement to call on officials to take more action to enact stricter gun laws.

“This is our signal to come together as the broad New Jersey family we are and recommit to the elimination of hate in all its forms,” he said. “This is also proof that the holes in our nation’s gun laws are failing our communities. We cannot wait until another domestic terrorist, filled with hate and bent on murder, gets their hands on a weapon, period. The time for Congress and our state to finish its job is now, and I commit to take every step possible to keep our residents safe.”

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) urged citizens of the state “to send a societal message that this type of bigotry, this type of anti-Semitism and this type of prejudice is not acceptable in our society.”

“Hatred very often rears its face in many different ways. In this case, it was a case of anti-Semitism and anti-police bias, but in other cases, it could be against the Muslim, the Hindu or a Coptic Christian. It could be just about anyone,” he said.

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) made note of the human tragedy and seconded the Governor’s call for stricter gun laws.

“The brave first responders who swiftly responded deserve our sincere thanks and gratitude, especially to the family of Detective Joseph Seals, who made the ultimate sacrifice and crystallized the risk our officers take each day they kiss their families goodbye and leave for work. To the families of Moshe Deutsch, Mindy Ferencz, and Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, we not just offer our prayers and our offices’ assistance during this difficult time, but we commit to ensuring their lives were not lost in vain by renewing our resolve to combat rising anti-Semitism across our nation and the world and to pursue common sense, lifesaving gun safety reform.”

New Jersey AG Spokesman Calls out Anti-Semitic Social Media Sites in Ocean County

Amid heightened sensitivity to threats against the Jewish community in light of the attacks in Jersey City, a spokesman for New Jersey’s Attorney General said that his office is actively monitoring social media platforms known for fomenting ill will towards Jews in Ocean County and Jackson, according to a report by the Shore News Network.

“The Attorney General is focused on rising anti-Semitism across New Jersey, including in Ocean County and Jackson. He is also focused on groups that use social media to try to stoke fear and division. We take the safety of the Jewish community seriously, and will not tolerate threats or acts of violence,” said Peter Aseltine, a public information officer for AG Gurbir S. Grewal. “He encourages all local, county and state-wide officials to stand up and call out acts of anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic language when they see it, and to acknowledge that hate can lead to violence.”

For several years now, social media pages such as “Jackson Strong” and “Toms River Strong, and others have been rife with anti-Semitic rhetoric. Last year, a new forum run by an anonymous group known as “Rise Up Ocean County” has received increased attention and been accused of both open anti-Semitism and incitement against the Jewish community. Earlier this year, AG Grewal sent a letter to social media asking that it take greater caution in what it allows on the group’s page, but as of yet, no public action has been taken either by the state or the company.