Backlash is growing for the state to fire a white state employee who allegedly committed what is believed to be a hate crime against a Black Muslim woman earlier this month.
Reports indicate that the incident occurred Dec. 5 at the Newark One-Stop Center when the 67-year-old white employee, who works for the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, ridiculed the woman, who worked for the city of Newark, and grabbed her hijab and threw it to the floor.
The white employee was arrested and banned from the One-Stop Center. He was charged with harassment but has not been fired or charged with a hate crime.
A spokeswoman for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said that the incident did not constitute a crime under state law. A spokeswoman for the Labor Department said that the man has been suspended without pay and the process to properly terminate him is underway.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said in a statement this week that the man should have been terminated from state employment immediately and that the county prosecutor’s office should have charged the man with a hate crime. Baraka is also calling for United States Attorney Paul Fishman to investigate the incident.
“In the present climate of violence against Muslims across America and around the world, hate crimes must be recognized for what they are, and they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Baraka said. “The climate of anti-Muslim violence that has exploded in recent weeks is leaving tragedy, pain and division in its wake.”