Home>Highlight>Lawmaker tells Grewal to empanel grand jury to solve Edison racist flyer cold case

Assemblyman Erik Peterson.

Lawmaker tells Grewal to empanel grand jury to solve Edison racist flyer cold case

Erik Peterson to Attorney General: ‘since your office told these agencies to stand down the prosecution of this hate crime has, unexplainably, come to a screeching halt’

By David Wildstein, March 19 2021 2:18 pm

Assemblyman Erik Peterson (R-Franklin) is accusing Attorney General Gurbir Grewal of sidestepping his call for an investigation into a 40-month-old unsolved mystery involving a racist flyer in a 2017 Edison local election and wants prosecutors to convene a grand jury probe.

“It is evident from your response that you purposely avoided addressing my sole concern which is your office’s failure to identify and bring     to justice the perpetrators of the Edison hate crime mailer despite what appears to be overwhelming evidence in the public domain which identifies the perpetrators and their motive,” Peterson told Grewal in a letter, the latest in a volley between the GOP lawmaker and the state’s top law enforcement official.

In the final days of the 2017 campaign, some Edison voters received a mailer promising to “Make Edison Great Again,” and alleging that “Chinese and Indians are taking over our town.”

Peterson says there appears to be “sufficient credible evidence readily available” to begin the grand jury process.

Earlier this week, Edison Mayor Thomas Lankey and six members of the township council scolded Grewal for his failing to investigate the cold case even after a detective from his office told the local police chief in January 2018 to stand down because the attorney general’s office was taking over the investigation.

“As far as I can tell since your office told these agencies to stand down the prosecution of this hate crime has, unexplainably, come to a screeching halt,” Peterson said.

Since then, Lankey, Council President Robert Diehl, and others have said they have not been contacted by state or county prosecutors for interviews or to turn over evidence they have gathered.

“You office’s failure to identify and bring charges for any crimes committed emboldens other bigots to commit acts of hate and terror on minority communities,” Peterson told Grewal. “The people of Edison deserve, at the very least, to know the names of those who terrorized the Edison Asian community and that they be held accountable for this unconscionable act.”

In a previous letter, Grewal denied knowing Satish Poondi, a partner at the Wilentz law firm and a state Democratic party leader.  Poondi is one of two individuals identified by Edison Councilman Ajay Patil as the mastermind behind the racist flyer.

Grewal has also avoided comment on any connection between the Edison flyer and one that showed up in Hoboken during the same week nearly four years ago.  Both flyers appear to have targeted a candidate of South Asian descent.

“I stand with the Edison Asian community and against those who terrorize with hate and bigotry and will continue to do so until every person involved in this politically motivated hate crime is publicly identified and brought to justice,” Peterson said.

A spokesman for Grewal declined comment on Peterson’ letter.

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