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NAACP, Anti-Defamation League team up in N.J. to combat rise in hate crimes

Jewish and African American activists in New Jersey have teamed up to combat what they say is an increase in hate and bigotry across the state.

The new partnership between the Anti-Defamation League, or ADL, and the NAACP comes just weeks after a fatal shooting at a Jewish deli in Jersey City and amid continued fallout over anti-Semitic comments made by two separate New Jersey NAACP officials.

“There’ve been so many people in our communities, our collective communities, saying that the Black and Jewish relationship is not as strong as it once was,” said Evan Bernstein, ADL regional director for New Jersey and New York. “We wanted to show that that is not the case, and that there is a working partnership.”

NAACP New Jersey State Conference president Richard Smith condemned the comments made by his members and said the Black and Jewish communities — though they have had rifts in the past — have historically worked together.

“We will not allow individuals to drive a wedge between our communities,” Smith said. “Over the long haul of the years, we both have proven that we are too strong for that.”

The two groups pledged to help each other beat back rising incidents of hate attacks in New Jersey and across the country.

ADL and NAACP officials said they would conduct additional outreach to their members and vowed to develop and offer anti-bias training to public officials. They also said they would work together to call out hateful incidents and rhetoric.

According to the FBI crime statistics, New Jersey saw the second-highest number of hate crimes nationally in 2018.