New Brunswick man arrested, accused of damaging Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University

Authorities say Jacob Beacher, who is not affiliated with the university, was charged with damage to religious property and making fraudulent statements.

Lanette Espy and Chris Keating

Apr 22, 2024, 4:36 PM

Updated 30 days ago


A 24-year-old man has been arrested and will be charged with committing a federal hate-crime in connection to an act of vandalism at the Islamic Center on the campus of Rutgers University.
The New Jersey state attorney general says 24-year-old Jacob Beacher was arrested this morning and is in federal custody. Authorities say Beacher is not a student and has no connection to Rutgers and lives in New Brunswick. He's facing federal charges that include damage to religious property. He’s also charged with making fraudulent statements.
On April 10, the FBI says Jacob Beacher was the person who broke into the Islamic Center along College Avenue at 4 a.m. – trashing art and televisions. They say he also stole a Palestinian flag.
Since then, the flag has been replaced, and with the help of donations the center has new artwork and televisions. Chaplain Kaiser Aslam is relieved to hear that an arrest has been made.
“That’s our society’s way of showing this was unacceptable so on that front I’m happy this person was brought to justice, and I hope something like this never happens again,” he said.
Beacher faces federal charges that include damage to religious property and making fraudulent statements. He will also face state charges as this is being treated as a bias crime.
Atiya Aftab, the chair of the Islamic Center, issued a statement:
“This incident is representative of a bigger issue – the dehumanization of Palestinian lives and voices abroad and locally; so this act of terror cannot be properly addressed without recognizing and correcting that systemic issue.”
The break-in happened on the Day of Eid, as Muslims celebrate the end of the Ramadan. Tensions on the Rutgers campus have been high at times since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas. Many with Palestinian ties have called on RU to divest from Israel. So far, the administration has rejected that proposal.
Leaders with the Islamic Center say they have never encountered Beacher. He was expected in federal court in Newark today.

More from News 12