What to Know
- New Jersey has established of an interagency task force to tackle bias incidents among students and young adults
- The creation of the agency comes after a report by the state’s attorney general that showed a “rising tide of hate” in the Garden State
- Task force will provide advice and recommendations to Offices of the Governor and Attorney General, and other state agencies
New Jersey has established of an interagency task force to tackle bias incidents among students and young adults following a report by the state’s attorney general that shows a “rising tide of hate” in the Garden State.
Acting Gov. Sheila Oliver issued the executive order Wednesday as Gov. Phil Murphy has been on vacation.
The new Interagency Task Force to Combat Youth Bias will provide advice and recommendations to the Offices of the Governor and the Attorney General, and to other state agencies, on strategies and actions to reduce incidents of hate, bias and intolerance involving students and young adults.
“We are deeply disturbed by the upward trend of bias incidents happening nationwide, especially at our public colleges, and Governor Murphy and I are determined to do everything within our power as a state to stop them,” Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, said in a statement.
“The new Interagency Task Force to Combat Youth Bias is going to help us better understand the source of the problem so we can effectively target and educate the next generation about how to overcome hidden bias and treat each other with the dignity and respect we all deserve. Hate has no home in New Jersey,” Oliver’s statement goes on to say.
The task force will include representatives from eight state agencies and be chaired by Division on Civil Rights Director Rachel Wainer Apter.
The report that prompted the creation of the task force was developed by the New Jersey State Police and Division on Civil Rights. Although there have been past reports with data on reported bias incidents in the state, this latest report is the first to include a discussion from the Division on Civil Rights of how New Jersey’s numbers compare to national trends, the potential causes of trends in the data and steps that can be taken to reduce the number of bias incidents.
The report has taken on added relevancy following recent mass shootings that appear to have been motivated by the shooters’ hate for particular ethnic or religious groups, state officials say.
According to the study, the number of reported bias incidents in New Jersey in 2018 was 569 –- a number that is up from 549 in 2017 and higher than any year since 2011. The report also documents a 32-percent increase in reported bias incidents from 2016 to 2017 - the largest single-year percentage jump in more than a decade.
Additionally, the report found that more than a quarter of bias incidents in 2018 occurred at institutions of higher education, and nearly half of the identified offenders were minors.
Over the past two years, a total of 284 reported bias incidents occurred on college and university campuses statewide, the study found.
“Bias incidents target individuals because of what they look like, how they worship, or who they love,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement. “They jeopardize our pursuit of freedom and opportunity. They erode, undermine, and attack the identity and heritage of our citizens. They dehumanize people. And they shake the foundations of our cultural and religious institutions. They have no place here in New Jersey. And today we are taking action to end them by focusing on our young people.”