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Does hate have a home here? Monmouth, Ocean towns see high number of bias incidents in 2022.



In April of last year, a 60-year-old Black Toms River man took a wrong turn on the way to a quarry in Manchester and ended up looking down the barrel of a loaded shotgun wielded by a 54-year-old white woman, police said.

By both state and federal standards, bias and hate like the Manchester incident are thriving, especially in places in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

Howell, Ocean and Lakewood saw three out of the four highest bias incident totals in New Jersey last year, according to statistics maintained by the New Jersey State Police. Combined, the three towns reported 148 incidents out of the 2,178 in New Jersey in 2022, the last full year of available statistics.

Those were just some of more than 400 confirmed or suspected bias incidents reported in Monmouth and Ocean counties together in 2022.

Ocean County in particular saw some of the most shocking hate crimes in New Jersey in the last two years:

Carr was charged with 16 hate crimes. A judge ordered an examination to see if Carr was fit to stand trial.

In the April 2022 shotgun incident in Manchester, the unidentified Black victim was headed to the Heritage Minerals site to shoot scenic drone footage when he mistakenly drove down the driveway of Laura L. Kyle, 54, at the end of a secluded road, according to a police report. Kyle came out of her house “with a black shotgun in her hands and multiple German shepherds,” the report says.

The victim told police she pointed the shotgun at his face and screamed, “I’ll blow your n***** head off,” according to the report.

Kyle is charged with third-degree aggravated assault for pointing a weapon; first-degree bias intimidation; and second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. The charges are pending. She has an early disposition conference in the case scheduled for Dec. 19.

Bias intimidation is considered a hate crime, and carries a penalty in this case of up to 20 years in prison. People sentenced in hate crime cases, however, frequently walk away without jail time.

Rise in hate:From a jumble of statistics, a dramatic rise in hate and bigotry in NJ

Kyle’s attorney, Daniel Epstein, said his client has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. He declined to discuss the case further.

Video:In New Jersey, reported bias incidents nearly quadrupled between 2018 and 2022

Police tape surrounds a 1st Avenue home that was gutted by what authorities called a bias-motivated fire in Manchester Township Wednesday, Jun 7, 2023. A Manchester man was charged with aggravated arson, criminal mischief and bias intimidation i

“Bias incidents and hate crimes continue to be specific area of concern here in Ocean County,” Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer said in a statement. “Even if a bias incident doesn’t rise to the level of a crime, it’s important for us to know every time an incident occurs.”

Recently released FBI hate crime data for 2022 shows just how much some of the towns in Monmouth and Ocean counties stand out.

Howell recorded 8.4 hate crime incidents per 10,000 people in 2022. That’s more than four times the rate of Los Angeles, where more hate crimes were reported than anywhere else in the country last year.

With population taken into account, the rates of hate crimes in Neptune and Ocean tower over most other major cities in the country.

Each municipality recorded more than 10 hate crimes per 10,000 people in 2022, according to the FBI data. Boston, where 156 hate crimes were reported last year, had a rate of 2.3 hate crimes per 10,000 — the most of any major city with a population over 250,000.

Compared to other cities with a population between 25,000 and 250,000, places like Howell, Ocean and Neptune are all glaring outliers.

Howell, for example, recorded more hate crimes than Birmingham, Alabama, in 2022 — a city with a population nearly four times the size. 

The New Jersey municipal average is 2.35 per 10,000.

In Lakewood, where the population was approximately 139,000 in 2022, the rate was 2.9 per 10,000.

Hate crimes and bias incidents have risen sharply in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

Federal hate crime data collection is far from perfect. There are yawning gaps, for instance, when it comes to compliance. According to the FBI, while New Jersey saw 1,101 hate crimes in 2022, the second highest behind California, Alaska reported five.

State data also falls short of providing a complete picture of hate.

In 2019, New Jersey expanded the standards of bias incident reporting to include suspected, not just confirmed, bias incidents. The numbers have risen sharply ever since.

But like the federal government, New Jersey’s effort to cast more light on bias and hate has shown uneven results.

While Lakewood recorded 51 bias incidents in 2022, Jersey City, regarded as one of the most ethnically diverse city in the United States, had four. In fact, Hudson County on the whole, which has more people than both Monmouth and Ocean counties individually, recorded 39 bias incidents last year. More diversity, experts say, means more bias incidents but not necessarily reports.

Improving the picture in low-reporting cities and towns is sometimes “a case of reeducating the police,” said James Mulvaney, adjunct lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

High bias incident counts don’t necessarily indicate there is more hate in those places than elsewhere in the state, Mulvaney said.

It might mean that the police in those towns act with more diligence than other towns in pursuing these complaints or that the residents there are more likely to call police, he said.

More hate is also a possibility.

Adding to the disparity in reporting is confusion over the statistics. The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office up to now has not offered any analysis to provide a clearer picture of bias in New Jersey by weeding out noncriminal hate speech and identifying unfounded and confirmed incidents, for example.

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To delve deeper into the statistics, the Asbury Park Press obtained Supplementary Bias Incident Offense Reports from the police departments in Howell, Lakewood and Ocean through open public records requests. The state police denied the Asbury Park Press’ request for the state’s electronic database of all towns, saying it is closed to the public.

The reports from the three towns provide a window into how bias and hate play out in those communities, from expressions of racism during an argument, to children hurling insults at each other in school, to acts of violence.

While Ocean and Howell show that children are accused of a high number of bias incidents, the reported incidents in Lakewood involve mostly adults and are far more destructive and violent.

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In Ocean Twp. most reports involve children

Many of the bias incident reports for 2022 in Ocean Township involved one child using slurs against another.

Out of the 45 total reports, 26 involved children or took place in township schools when there was no specific victim identified. Nearly all those complaints were for harassment. Five involved swastikas, four drawn on bathroom stalls.

That such a large percentage of incidents came out of the schools is the result of mandatory reporting, Ocean Police Chief Michael Sorrentino said.

School administrators “do frequently call us to make reports, we would document it, and they would do their investigation and handle their student as they see fit,” he said.

The mandatory reporting comes by way of a Memorandum of Agreement the state of New Jersey issued in 1988 that is meant to ensure cooperation between the schools and law enforcement agencies. Bias incident reporting is one of the requirements.

According to the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, the memorandum requirements are mandatory.

But a law enforcement official said it is “mandatory but interpretive.”

Michael Yaple, a spokesman for the state Department of Education, said in an email that schools are required to notify the police of bias incidents. The police follow attorney general guidelines on the reporting of bias incidents and “local law enforcement determines what is or what is not permitted, per the Attorney General’s guidance.”

The Department of Education has what it calls a monitoring system for bias incidents and other requirements under the Memorandum of Agreement, known as the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum. That system is dependent on school officials inputting data.“If the Department becomes aware of a district that is not properly adhering to required protocols, we will reach out directly to that district to discuss the matter,” Yaple said.

As for the high overall tally of bias incidents in Ocean, Sorrentino said, “We follow the guidelines. Very stringently.”

Of the bias motivations for the 45 incidents in Ocean, 16 were anti-Jewish, 13 were anti-Black, nine were anti-gay, lesbian or transgender, four were anti-white, two were anti-Hispanic, and one was anti-Muslim.

The tally includes one bias-related arrest. According to the bias incident report, a 27-year-old white man held a sharp object to the neck of a 47-year-old Black man in a private residence in May and threatened to kill him, uttering a racist slur. The alleged assailant was charged with harassment, two counts of terroristic threats, bias intimidation and unlawful possession of a weapon. The status of the case, however, could not be determined through a court records search, the police or the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. It was unclear why.

Out of the 45 bias incident reports filed in Ocean Township, 38 identified the possible crime as harassment. The others included two cases of intimidation, one of vandalism, one case of terroristic threats, one weapons case – the incident involving the arrest – a simple assault and a criminal mischief case.

Out of the 45 reports, 24 appear to be acts of hate speech. In one, a 52-year-old white woman called a 30-year-old Black woman a racist slur during an argument at a private residence. In another, a 13-year-old boy called a girl his age a transgender slur during a science class.

The incidents in Ocean include the following:

  • The simple assault involved a multi-race 9-year-old male who allegedly slapped a white 9-year-old girl, a stranger, with both hands at a private residence and called her slurs, according to the report. It was listed as a juvenile matter, which are not public.
  • In one intimidation case, a 66-year-old white woman was accused of walking toward a neighbor’s property line, yelling “f— you Jews” to a 27-year-old woman. It was listed as unfounded, meaning there was no evidence that a crime was committed.
  • The terroristic threats case involved anti-Black Instagram messages sent to a white 12-year-old girl threatening to kill her and her family. The report lists the complaint as unfounded.

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Most Howell NJ incidents happened at schools

Of the 52 bias incidents in Howell in 2022, 29 happened at  the schools, according to Howell’s data.

Of those school incidents, 17 were harassment, involving insults and slurs thrown at one child by another. The rest involved vandalism.

Of the 31 known offenders in all of Howell’s bias incidents last year, 19 were children and 12 were adults. In 23 cases, the offender was listed as unknown.

Neither the school district nor the police returned messages seeking to find out how Howell is guided by the Memorandum of Agreement.

There were no arrests in connection with bias offenses in Howell in 2022, according to their records. Ten incidents were listed as juvenile matters that may have gone to court or were resolved through stationhouse adjustments, a diversionary program handled by the police.

Overall, the reports involved 37 acts listed as harassment, 16 listed as vandalism and one terroristic threats case. There were no bias-related assaults or more egregious crimes reported.

About a half of the overall incidents did not appear to be crimes at all, but hate speech.

The bias motivations break down as: 19 anti-Black, 13 anti-Jewish, six anti-white, four anti-Hispanic, four both anti-Jewish and anti-Black (vandalism), five anti-gay or anti-transgender and two anti-Asian.

The incidents include:

  • A 44-year-old white man threatened to kill a 37-year-old Black gas station attendant, hurling a racist epithet at the man, then driving his truck aggressively toward the victim, according to the bias report. Police listed the incident as unfounded.
  • On two occasions, one or more callers spewed anti-Chinese remarks to the people answering the phone at a Chinese restaurant.

More acts of destruction in Lakewood NJ

Fifty-one bias incident reports were filed in Lakewood in 2022, the second highest in New Jersey behind only Howell, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.

Those incidents stand in contrast to the bias reports in Ocean and Howell in two ways: the destruction of property was greater and there was far more violence.

In Lakewood, only five of the 51 reported incidents involved children. The rest involved victims and offenders whose age was unknown or adults between 19 and 71.

The tally of bias incidents in Lakewood last year represented a 50% increase over the year before, which saw 34. The increase mirrors national statistics and points to an alarming trend.“One of the disturbing things that we’re seeing is a tilt with respect to targeting Orthodox Jews, and a more violent tilt to anti-Jewish hate crimes in general,” said Brian Levin, founding director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino.

Levin calls the increased attacks against Jews a “contemporaneous warning sign” – a canary in a coal mine. Those attacks historically presage an increase in general hate crimes, he said. Attacks against Jewish communities routinely rise following problems in the Middle East, national political or social media rancor and local disputes directed at Jewish people. The center saw a sharp rise following the antisemitic remarks of Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, he said.

Repeated calls and emails to Lakewood Police Department requesting to discuss the statistics with officials were not returned.

Of the bias motivation behind the 51 reports: 36 were anti-Jewish; 12 anti-Black; three anti-Hispanic; two anti-gay; and two anti-Asian. At least two involved mixed groups of victims.

The cases were composed of one burglary/criminal mischief, one robbery, 16 harassment cases, 10 listed as intimidation although nearly all appeared to be hate speech, eight vandalism incidents, five involving swastikas, four simple assaults, three terroristic threats, the carjacking and attempted murder incidents Marsh is accused of, one burglary/criminal mischief and one robbery.

They include:

  • In October 2022, someone broke into a synagogue in Lakewood and destroyed about $5,000 in religious texts, Lakewood police said.
  • In an anti-gay attack in a commercial building in September, an unknown male called the victim, a 20-year-old man, a gay slur and punched him in the back of the neck and head. The incident was listed as unfounded.
  • In a complaint involving a 12-year-old boy riding a bike on Ocean Avenue last May 2022, a Hispanic male leaned out of the window of a passing car, hurled an antisemitic slur at him and hit him with an unknown object in the back of the neck and head. The report lists the incident as unfounded.
  • In an anti-Jewish attack in March 2022, a 21-year-old white man shot a BB gun at a 40-year-old white man in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, according to the reports. The assailant was arrested.
  • A group of boys threw an ice ball at a vehicle in January 2022, cracking the windshield. When the 36-year-old Black male passenger got out to approach the boys, they ran into a Jewish school, yelling racist slurs at the man and the female driver. Neither police nor school staff could identify the boys, according to the report. The vandalism was deemed to not be bias motivated.

Ken Serrano covers crime, breaking news and investigations. Reach him at 732-643-4029 or at

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