A New Jersey man in his mid to late 50s has been arrested in connection with the smashing of windows in Highland Park Tuesday night. Richard Green of New Brunswick was charged with five counts of criminal mischief, with a maximum penalty of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
However, if officials file hate crime charges against him, he could face at least 10 years in prison. In a statement, police said that the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office was notified of the circumstances of the incidents, and they will decide on whether to upgrade the charges.
Green was being questioned in connection with incidents of window smashing on Raritan Avene and on the Rutgers University campus – where windows of the campus' Hillel House and Chabad House were broken Sunday night. Police are trying to determine Green's motives, and if he acted alone or with others. Officials were quoted as saying that he was sent for psychiatric evaluation.
Among the five stores that were hit were two kosher restaurants and two Judaica stores, all with identifiable Jewish symbols – as well as a hardware store, owned by a Jewish resident of Highland Park, but without any identifiable Jewish symbols outside. Several blogs reported that patrons of a local falafel shop were threatened earlier this week with “a a second Kristallnacht,” a reference to the 1938 "night of broken glass" pogrom in which thousands of Jewish stores and synagogues were destroyed and that launched the Nazi Holocaust in Germany.
The destruction took place on the anniversary of the 1947 United Nations Partition Vote to create the Jewish State in Palestine.
The Anti-Defamation League called the crimes “shocking. We are appalled by the targeting of Jewish stores and Jewish campus institutions at Rutgers,” said ADL New Jersey Regional Board Chairman Lawrence Cooper. “These shocking crimes target the entire Jewish community as these locations appear to have been selected because of their Jewishness.”