Bias crimes targeted LGBTQ+, Black communities in West Orange, NJ
Wednesday, July 19, 2023 6:20PM
WEST ORANGE, New Jersey (WABC) — Authorities are seeking the public’s help as they investigate three bias crimes in West Orange, Essex County.
All three happened last week. The first two targeted the same business with vandalism, and the third targeted another business with a threat.
Sometime on the night of July 12th into July 13th, suspects smashed the glass of the front door of Harper’s Café on South Valley Road.
They also smeared black paint on the storefront and defiled two Pride flags being displayed.
And the night of July 13th, someone through a brick through the front window of the same cafe.
Investigators found evidence that vandalism was motivated by bias against LGBTQIA+ people.
WATCH: Prosecutor reveals details of West Orange bias crimes investigation
In the third incident, on July 13th, the owner of a photography studio a short distance from the café on South Valley Road received a racially biased phone call.
The caller asked the owner about her braided hair style and asked if the business is Black-owned. The caller then told the owner to move to another neighborhood and threatened to vandalize the business.
“I want to make it abundantly clear how saddened we are by these incidents,” said Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens, II. “There’s no place in this county for bias of any kind, and my office will not stand for it.”
Investigators are looking to see if surveillance cameras captured images that could lead to them to whoever was responsible for the café vandalism, Stephens said.
Anyone with information about either crime is asked to contact the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.
Information about any bias incident can be reported to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office by calling 1-800-277-BIAS (2427).