Jewish Groups, AC NAACP Host Anti-Extremism Talks After State Report

By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media

MARGATE CITY – An anti-extremism discussion featuring New Jersey Attorney General Gubir Grewal is set for Wednesday, Feb. 26 on the heels of new report that elevated white supremacist extremists to the highest state threat level.

The event, titled Fighting Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia Church Violence will be held at 11 a.m. at the Beth El Synagogue, 500 N. Jerome Avenue in Margate City in suburban Atlantic City.

The free public event is sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Board, the Jewish Federation of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, the Atlantic City Branch of the NAACP, The Fellowship of Church of Atlantic City and Vicinity, Anti-Defamation League, Mainland Pleasantville NAACP, South Jersey Board of Rabbis and Cantors and the Atlantic County Coalition for a Safe Community.

Kaleem Shabazz, an Atlantic City councilman and president of the Atlantic City NAACP told Front Runner New Jersey last week about the powerful message it sends for the groups to come together to understand and fight such extremism and violence.

“The NAACP is shocked, saddened and dismayed at the uptick of acts of violence against our Jewish brothers and sisters in New Jersey and across our country,” Shabazz said in a new statement released Monday. “We are also outraged by incidents of hatred and violence against our Muslim and Christian sisters and brothers. We have asked the Attorney General to come to Atlantic County to provide us with some insight into how the State is coping with this dangerous rise in violence toward our religious communities.”

The 2020 Terrorism Threat Assessment report released Friday by the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness ranked white supremacist extremists and homegrown violent extremists at its highest threat levels.

Black separatists extremist was moved from low threat to moderate threat after two individuals connected with that ideology killed a law enforcement officer and a kosher store in the Jewish community in Jersey City, killing four and injuring three in December. David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50, were killed by police after a lengthy gun battle.

The Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP both spoke out against the Jersey City shooting.

“We stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters in strong condemnation of the acts of hate perpetuated against the Jewish community in our state and in the tri-state area over the last month,” Richard T. Smith, president of the NAACP New Jersey State Conference, said in a statement. “To the Jewish community in New Jersey I want you to know: the NAACP stands with you in this challenging time and in all times.”

The report said New Jersey officials moved white supremacist extremists to its highest threat level “due to the number of threats, plots, and attacks conducted in 2019, including the El Paso attack where Patrick Crusius killed 22 people and injured 24.”

The report cited two recent incidents of white supremacist extremism in South Jersey.

It said on Oct. 25, Fred Arena, of Salem, was indicted for making false statements to government agents. He was a member of Vanguard America, a white supremacist extremist group, and lied about his involvement on his application for a security clearance. Arena espoused violent rhetoric online and expressed a willingness to fight anti-fascists and law enforcement.

On Nov. 13, Richard Tobin of Brooklawn in Camden County admitted instructing two members of a loosely organized neo-Nazi network, The Base, to vandalize synagogues in Wisconsin and Michigan. Tobin also expressed an interest in attacking black people with a machete in a New Jersey mall.

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