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ADL slams bias attacks at NJ school
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ADL slams bias attacks at NJ school

Joshua Cohen, NJ regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said he is “deeply disturbed” by bias incidents perpetrated by a white supremacist group at Pascack Valley High School.
Joshua Cohen, NJ regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said he is “deeply disturbed” by bias incidents perpetrated by a white supremacist group at Pascack Valley High School.

The Anti-Defamation League is expressing alarm over “deeply disturbing” allegations that white supremacist teens at Pascack Valley High School in Bergen County have engaged in a series of racial and ethnic slurs against gays, blacks, and Jews.

According to Joshua Cohen, ADL’s New Jersey regional director, the incidents included swastikas drawn in a hallway and a stairwell door and white power graffiti in a bathroom, uses of the “n- word” and other racial slurs, and white power signs displayed by students at sporting events and on social media.

Although only five students were responsible for the bias attacks, Cohen told NJ Jewish News that the slurs were an “inappropriate use of language and behavior.” Three of the five have returned to class after suspensions. The two others no longer attend the school.

Cohen expressed his group’s indignation in an earlier phone conversation with Pascack Valley School Superintendent P. Erik Gundersen. He plans a face-to-face meeting with Gundersen later this week.

“What they are posting is absolutely wrong, but we have no indication they are part of any larger group,” said Gundersen in a May 19 phone interview. “I find what they did reprehensible and disgusting.”

The bias incidents came to light after a May 10 posting by the student-run Human Rights League in the on-line version of the high school newspaper, Smoke Signal.

In an open letter titled “Stand up against white supremacy at PV,” the league described “a stream of hateful racial, ethnic, and homophobic slurs.” 

“Racism, hatred, and intolerance in any way is not cool, nor is it funny,” the letter continued. “When you stand by in silence you are passively supporting it.”

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