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Police: Vandalism outside Highland Park synagogue was not hate-related

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Police in Middlesex County say that graffiti found outside a synagogue is not believed to hate-related.

Authorities say that two teenagers spray-painted graffiti on trees and sidewalks outside the Avahas Achim Orthodox Synagogue in Highland Park over the weekend. But they say that the teens were not targeting a specific group.

"At this point and time, there is absolutely no indication of a bias intent on the part of the young people that were involved,” said acting Middlesex County Prosecutor Christopher Kuberiet.

The prosecutor made the announcement Monday evening at a community meeting held in the wake of the incident. Several recent anti-Semitic attacks in New Jersey and New York have left a community on edge.

Highland Park resident Michael Gordon became emotional when he said that he has noticed a rise in antisemitism in the town this past year.

User: Highland Park Police Department To: link

"Am I afraid? No. Am I angry? Yes. Why am I angry? Because my wife is afraid now and…that's never happened to me,” Gordon said. "My kids and family are afraid now and that shouldn't be in Highland Park and that shouldn't be anywhere in American and that shouldn't be anywhere in the world."

Representatives from the Highland Park Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security were among those in attendance of the meeting. Highland Park Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler outlined some of the steps the town is taking to protect the community, including reestablishing a community response team.

RELATED: Police: Graffiti found outside Highland Park synagogue 
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"We've increased patrols around all our houses of worship - Jewish and Christian,” the mayor said. “We're increasing patrols around our Jewish businesses here, we're going to be hiring another police officer."

The mayor says said that everyone should feel safe in Highland Park. She also announced that they will pass an antisemitism resolution in Highland Park in early 2020.

"We as a community - the residents, the people in charge, the elected officials - we're not going to take this lying down,” Brill Mittler said.

A teen girl was charged with four counts of criminal mischief and a teen boy was charged with one. They were released to their parents.

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