Mayor Responds Swiftly To Antisemitic Graffiti Found on Allwood Road


Graffiti (with name partially blurred) before the city removed it on Thursday.

Cliftonites pride themselves on the diversity and the welcoming nature of Clifton, so people were surprised to see antisemitic graffiti scrawled at the Park and Ride bus stop on Allwood Road, right after the overpass, in the Stop and Shop area. The graffiti included the name of a website from a national hate group, which includes references to blood libel and other antisemitic canards. A college student, and graduate of Clifton High School, spotted the scrawlings last week while on a walk. Not wishing to be named, they indicated that seeing it there was an ugly reminder of “how some people really feel” about Jews.

Rachel R. of Clifton saw the graffiti yesterday, while driving her sons to school, and reported it to City Manager Villano, asking that it be removed. As a Clifton resident, she believed that it should be removed immediately, because she did not want her children to see or feel such antisemitism in their own hometown. She said that it was so jarring to see a message so full of hatred next to the beautiful Unity mural, which is all about diversity, inclusion, and possibility. She passed it several times and said she was shocked to see it still there. Several other Cliftonites were assured that the City Manager was aware of the graffiti and that it would be removed. Villano said that before it could be removed, the Juvenile division of the Clifton Police Department needed to be alerted so that they could collect any evidence and record the incident.

Aliza Bloom, a member of the Clifton Advisory Committee on Civil Rights, spotted the graffiti on Wednesday morning and contacted the City to have it removed. She was told that it was being taken care of, and that the City would have to see if the graffiti was on NJ DOT property, and if so, they would be responsible for the removal. Concerned about not wanting to leave graffiti up that could lead more people to the website, giving them publicity and risking emboldening them, Bloom called Mayor Grabowski on Thursday morning and was told that it would be removed. Bloom told us that the information on the website referenced antisemitic material that was used to justify the Russian pogroms. The mayor had learned of the offensive graffiti yesterday from Mr. Villano and followed up with him again today after the call. Shortly after, workers from DPW were dispatched to the site and Mayor Grabowski oversaw the graffiti's removal. “Any hatred will never be tolerated in Clifton,” Grabowski said, saying that people need to know that such ugly acts will always be swiftly handled in the city. “Hatred has no room in our town.”

We heard from several Cliftonites who did not want their names used because they were concerned about reprisals for their families and loved ones. This is a reminder that the graffiti makes people feel unsafe and reminds Jewish families and their allies that there are violent extremists out there who target people with violence, emotional and physical, including doxing (maliciously posting private information about someone, often including their address or place of work).

This is just the most recent antisemitic incident in Clifton. The Clifton Times reported on hate group leaflets being distributed on Maple Place earlier this year. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) tracks anti-Jewish vandalism, harassment and assault, and maintains a H.E.A.T. (Hate, Extremism, Antisemitism, Terrorism) map, which shows that in 2022, New Jersey had 487 incidents, of which 408 were antisemitic events, 73 were reports of white supremacist propaganda, and 6 were white supremacist events. The ADL also has resources to bring into schools and workplaces to combat antisemitism with education, and a site to report antisemitic incidents.

The White House released their Strategy to Counter Antisemitism on May 25, 2023, stating that “Antisemitism threatens not only the Jewish community, but all Americans. People who peddle these antisemitic conspiracy theories and fuel racial, ethnic, and religious hatred against Jews also target other communities—including Black and brown Americans; Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders; LGBTQI+ individuals; Muslim Americans; women and girls; and so many others. Our intelligence agencies have determined that domestic terrorism rooted in white supremacy—including antisemitism—is the greatest terrorist threat to our Homeland today.”

The Clifton Times has reached out to City Manager Dominic Villano and to the Clifton Police Department for comment. We do not know if this is an active investigation at this time, but have been told by people with knowledge of the area that there are cameras in the lot nearby, and there may be footage of the perpetrators.

Clifton is “The City That Cares,” and we should all care about our neighbors and ensure that they feel welcome and safe. If you see any antisemitic or other hate speech, please make sure to speak up and report it. You can call the City Manager’s office at (973) 470-5854 or, for criminal actions, the Clifton Police Department at 973-470-5900.

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