July 1, 2020

Graffiti Expressing Racial Slurs Is Found on Two Local Bridges

By Anne Levin

Two incidences of graffiti with racial slurs have been reported in Princeton during the past week. The graffiti, which contained racially-motivated hate speech against African Americans, was discovered on the bridge at Poe Road, and the NJ Transit Railroad bridge along the D&R Canal State Park Towpath.

Princeton Police are treating these incidents as Bias Intimidation and Criminal Mischief. “This type of racially-motivated hate speech will not be tolerated in our community and we will work diligently to identify those responsible,” said Chief Nicholas Sutter.

At the meeting of Princeton Council on June 29, Councilwoman Leticia Fraga spoke about the incidents. “It is disgusting,” she said. “An attack on some members of our community is an attack on all of us. We will not tolerate racism in any form. It is despicable that anyone uses this language, which I will not repeat. We want to assure our residents that our community stands with all who are targeted.”

The first incident was reported on Thursday, June 25. Police officers observed that the racial slurs had been written on the underside of the Poe Road bridge. The town’s Department of Public Works removed the graffiti. The second incident was reported on Monday, June 29. Racially-motivated hate speech had been spray painted on the concrete foundation of the railroad bridge on Alexander Street. Police notified NJ Transit of the incident, and they were making arrangements to have it removed.

According to information from the police department, notifications of both situations have been made to the Princeton Police Bias Incident Investigation Officer, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Bias Crime Unit, and the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness Unit. In addition, the Electronic Uniform Crime Report was completed and sent to the NJ State Police Uniform Crime Reporting Unit.

“Princeton Police has been in discussion with various community partners as well as members of our government to help manage the detrimental effects that such hate speech has on our community,” reads a statement from the department. “If anyone has any information regarding who may have been involved in these acts, please contact the Princeton Police Department at (609) 921-2100.”