Planet Princeton

Racist mailer targets two Edison school board candidates

A postcard sent to voters in Edison targets a Chinese-American school board candidate and an Indian-American school board candidate.

“Make Edison Great Again” is the slogan on the postcard that calls on voters to “Stop Jerry Shi & Falguni Patel From taking over our School Board and “DEPORT” is stamped under Shi and Patel’s pictures.

“The Chinese and Indians are taking over our town! Chinese school! Indian school! Cricket fields! Enough is enough!,” reads the postcard. “Stop the overcrowding! Stop taking over our sports fields! Stop the McMansions! Stop the multiple families living in the same house! Stop wasting school holidays! Stop the outsiders! Let’s take back our Edison & our Schools.”

The postcard does not list who paid for the mailing. New Jersey election law requires that campaign literature includes information on the group that paid for the ad.

A field of 11 candidates is running for the school board in Edison. Patel and Shi are the only Asian Americans running for seats on the board even though Edison has a very large and growing South Asian and East Asian population.

“It’s said to see how low some people are willing to go for political gain,” Patel posted on Facebook in response to the mailer. “As a person born and raised in New Jersey, I am completely disgusted to be called an outsider. We are all hard working human beings who should be treated equally regardless of the color of our skin.”

Edison Mayor Tom Lankey said in a statement today that the township embraces its cultural diversity. “It has become a sad reality that in our polarized political atmosphere, some people suddenly feel empowered to publicly express these vile ideas,” he said. “Make no mistake, we will do everything we can to expose the shameful people behind this.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng, Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, condemned the mailer.

“One of our country’s greatest strengths is its vast diversity, and this hateful rhetoric has no place in our democracy and runs contrary to everything the Garden State stands for,” Meng said. “More than one in five New Jersey residents is an immigrant, and nearly half of Edison, New Jersey’s residents are Asian. These include hard working business owners, taxpayers, teachers, mothers, children and neighbors who love their communities. This racist mailer is shameful and disgusting and was produced for no other intention than to empower divisive forces of bigotry and hate. I hope that the good citizens of Edison will reject this disgraceful mailer and I urge officials to do all they can to find out who is behind it.”

The group Inspiring South Asian American Women also issued a statement about the postcard. “No one deserves this treatment when they stand up and want to serve their community,” reads the statement. “This mailer represents hate speech and as Americans and residents of the great state of New Jersey, we are appalled at the use of such hate speech in the political process.  This is an outgrowth of the increasingly racist and toxic climate in our country as we have seen other South Asian American candidates experience similar treatment during this election cycle. As proud New Jerseyans, we know that one of our greatest treasures is the diversity that exists in our state. “

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

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