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Black community in West Orange, New Jersey, bigotry crimes targeting LGBTQ+, prosecutors announce

West Orange, New Jersey (WABC) — Authorities are asking for the public’s cooperation in investigating three prejudice crimes in West Orange, Essex County.

All three happened last week. His first two targeted the same company for vandalism, and the third targeted a nearby business for threats.

On the night of July 12th or early morning of July 13th, the suspects broke the front door of Harper’s Cafe on South Valley Road.

They also smeared the storefront with black paint and defaced the two pride flags that were displayed.

Then, on the night of July 13, someone threw a brick through the front window of the same cafe.

Café owner Garan Dixon said he’s always made it known that he supports the LGBTQIA+ community, but this year he’s added more flags to his display of pride.

“This stuff has no place anywhere,” he told Eyewitness News of the damage to his cafe.

WATCH: Prosecutors Reveal Details of West Orange Bigotry Crimes Investigation

On the night of the 13th, about the same time that the café windows were smashed, perhaps coincidentally, the owner of the photo studio next door received a horrifying, racist phone call.

“Someone called me and asked me why I had braids and threatened me because of my answer,” said Amber Jimenez.

Jimenez is Dominican. Her caller, she said, never saw her with her braids on and swore she would retaliate because she chose that hairstyle.

“The person said, ‘I’m going to do something for your business,'” Jimenez said. “I’m scared.”

The Essex County Attorney’s Office is investigating both incidents and has suggested they have leads to track down who damaged the cafe.

“I want to make it very clear how saddened we are by these incidents,” Essex County Deputy Attorney Theodore N. Stephens II said at a press conference Wednesday morning. “There is no room for prejudice of any kind in this county and my office will not tolerate it.”

A bit of good news here is that the community came together on Sunday to help clean up the café’s damage.

Meanwhile, the suspects remain on the run.

If you have information about any crime, please contact West Orange Police at 973-325-4000.

Information about bias cases in New Jersey can be reported to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office by calling 1-800-277-BIAS (2427).

Also read | History Made: Edward Cavan Appointed First Latino NYPD Commissioner


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