Cars torched in Lakewood – police suspect arson, not bias
Cars found ablaze this morning on two Lakewood streets within a short time, and a short distance, of each other, are suspected to be arson.
Police believe that bias is not a factor in the incidents on Miller Road and Iroquois Place, on opposite sides of Pine Park and Lakewood Country Club, not far from West County Line and Hope Chapel Roads.
Lakewood PD Sergeant Greg Staffordsmith said that both vehicles were Toyotas, but did not offer details regarding model types or owners.
Police did not elaborate regarding the type of ethnic, racial or religious group that might have assumed bias, but added that the fires appear to be unconnected to any specific incidents.
A reporter for Lakewood Scoop, in contrast, places the car fires among a series of alleged events construced to be anti-Semitic, including middle-of-night disturbances outside homes, and hostile speech, gestures and actions, including the alleged blockage of a Hatzolah ambulance responding to an emergency call.
Lakewood police have not issued information regarding the allegations, but in response to the car fires, said:
"We have nothing to suggest that these fires were motivated by bias or hate. Nor, do we have reason to believe that this event is tied to any specific group or other incident."
Police seek information about the torched cars. Detective Michael Mooney can be reached at 732-363-0200.
Preliminary investigations were conducted by the New Jersey State Fire Marshal's K9 Unit, the Ocean County Fire Marshal's Office and the Ocean County Criminal Investigations Unit.
In a related matter, State Senator Robert Singer (R-30), who represents Lakewood in the New Jersey Legislature, joined Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37), Democrat Conference Leader Robert Gordon (D-38), and more than 60 Jewish state lawmakers nationwide urging President Trump to reverse its current course of action, and to re-appoint a special envoy in the State Department to monitor and combat anti-Semitism.
Lawmakers said that dismantling of the position would counteract a measure that has been in place since the George W. Bush administration.
"In recent months we've seen numerous threats of violence against Jewish Community Centers throughout the country," Singer said in prepared remairs. "We must do more to keep anti-Semitism from taking root in our country and the rest of the world. We cannot continue to effectively track the rise in anti-Semitism, or deter people from committing these vile acts, without reappointing a Special Envoy. I hope that the administration will heed our call and fill this vacancy as soon as possible."
Weinberg added, "We need to take action at every level to combat anti-Semitism, both in the United States and around the world. The Special Envoy plays a vital role in monitoring anti-Semitism across the globe and in developing strategies to combat it. With our colleagues from 25 other states, we are asking the President to act expeditiously to make this appointment. Filling this position is crucial to the effort to fight hateful acts against members of the Jewish community wherever they occur."
In Gordon's view, "Failing to appoint a Special Envoy would be an unacceptable reversal of United States policy aimed at combatting hate and violence. Presidents of both parties and Congress have supported this position, which is required by federal law, and it is imperative that this administration maintain the commitment to this effort in the Department of State by acting immediately. The United States must be a global leader in promoting religious freedom and protecting human rights. This is vital to that mission."
Charges are accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, found guilty in a court of law.