From the Maplewood Township Committee and the South Orange Board of Trustees:
On the evening of August 4, Maplewood Township Committee members Greg Lembrich and Vic De Luca were victims of trespassing and vandalism at their homes. Persons entered their property and placed several yard signs near their front doors. These signs expressed anti-police messages, contained derogatory and offensive language, and, in one instance, specifically included the name of South Orange Police Chief Kyle Kroll. Given the targeted nature of these actions, the recent horrific attack at the home of a New Jersey federal judge, and the fact that a young child resides in one of the homes, police authorities are treating this matter seriously, and an investigation is ongoing.
As elected officials of our two towns, we are deeply disappointed by these incidents and join together to address this inappropriate behavior. While we fully support the rights of all residents to express their views, whether at public meetings, online, or through peaceful protest, we condemn any and all behavior designed to threaten, intimidate, or harm public officials, their families, or their property. No one in our community, public official or otherwise, should be made to feel violated or unsafe in their home.
Regardless of one’s views on the issue of defunding and/or disarming police, trespassing and vandalism under cover of darkness crosses the line from activism into criminality. Robust discussion and debate of important issues are critical. We cannot allow the unlawful actions of a few to derail or distract us from public dialogue. As a community, we are better than this, and we hope that other local leaders and organizations will join us in speaking out against these recent incidents.
Mayor Frank McGehee Village President Sheena Collum
Deputy Mayor Dean Dafis Trustee Walter Clarke
Committeeperson Nancy Adams Trustee Donna Coallier
Committeeperson Vic De Luca Trustee Karen Hilton
Committeeperson Greg Lembrich Trustee Summer Jones
Trustee Stephen Schnall
Trustee Bob Zuckerman
The following signs were posted overnight on Township Committee member and Public Safety Chair Greg Lembrich’s property: