Dozens gather in Highland Park to condemn defacing of refugee mural

Dozens of people came together in Highland Park on Monday to condemn the defacing of a mural days after it was finished. It is forcing a community to confront issues of culture, religion and race, on the heels of Ramadan.
“I am really heartbroken to see what you are all looking at,” says Dr. Ali Chaudry, co-founder of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey.
The people behind the mural say that it was made with the goal of making refugees feel welcome. It features a woman wearing a Muslim head scarf. But someone vandalized it with graffiti that appears to say “USA” and two stars of David.
“Someone very cowardly and very childish fashion defaced the mural that had very good intentions and it really flies in the face of where we stand here in Highland Park,” says Rabbi Steven Miodownik.
Artists say that the mural’s artist was repeatedly racially harassed while she was creating it.
It has put others on edge.
“I also felt scared to some extent. Your sense of security and safety gets finished when things like this happen,” says Gihane Jeremie-Brink, of Black Community Watchline.
“The mural suggests what we aspire to be. The defacing of it gives us an indication of where we are.,” says Colin Jager, director of Rutgers Center for Cultural Analysis
Jager’s group helped to fund the project.
News 12 New Jersey reached out to the artist of the mural, but did not hear back.
Highland Park police are investigating the vandalism.