HIGHLAND PARK – A new mural, “Home Is Where We Make It,” was installed less than 48 hours before it was defaced twice on April 30, and residents are outraged.
According to a statement from the Highland Park Police Department, they are actively investigating two incidents of criminal mischief to the newly completed mural on the side of 75 Raritan Ave.
The incidents also are being investigated by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.
“So sad and angry to see this beautiful new mural at the end of our street in Highland Park,” said resident Mark Trautman, who has lived in Highland Park for over 25 years.
This defacement is unacceptable.”
“I’m sickened by this,” Highland Park Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler said.
“I was really shocked when I saw it was defaced like that,” said resident Amanda Simone. “I’ve lived here since I was in high school and I never thought this would happen.”
“This is disgusting, racist, deplorable,” said resident Dave Seamon. “Not only is it an ugly and racist tag on a mural celebrating diversity in Highland Park, it’s weaponizing the Star of David to scapegoat the Jewish community here.”
The mural illustrates Highland Park’s legacy of being a welcoming community and was designed and installed by muralist and artist of color Amrisa Niranjan.
“This desecration of a brand new beautiful mural in our town is a hate crime,” local co-pastor at the Reformed Church of Highland Park Seth Kaper-Dale said.
The mural focuses on local refugee and asylee resettlement efforts over the last couple of years. The main focal point of the mural is the three portraits referencing refugees we spoke with, representing areas of Northeast Africa and the Middle East around the Red Sea.
The mural was produced by coLAB Arts and the Shelter Project in collaboration with Interfaith-RISE, D.I.R.E, and Black Community Watchline, with support from Main Street Highland Park and the Highland Park Arts Commission.
According to a statement released by the Black Community Watchline, during the week of April 18, several individuals verbally harassed and intimidated the artist during the installation.
The Black Community Watchline reached out to the Mayor and Highland Park Council Members concerning the harassment and were allegedly told that an officer would be stationed but this did not happen, according to the statement.
The community came together and hosted an impromptu rally at 7 p.m. on April 30, with over 100 people showing up to talk about how they felt after this incident.
Anyone with information should contact the Highland Park Police Department at 732-572-3800 or via [email protected].
Email: [email protected]
Alexander Lewis is an award-winning reporter and photojournalist whose work spans many topics. This coverage is only possible with support from our readers. Sign up today for a digital subscription.
This article originally appeared on MyCentralJersey.com: Highland Park NJ mural defaced days after completion