Police promise action as acts of racism pop up after Obama win
NEW YORK: Arianna Grewal kept waking up frightened after racists burned a six-foot cross in the dead of night on the little Indian girl’s front lawn in their home in northern Warren County in New Jersey.
“It is shocking that we are living in the 21st century, and we have to deal with this — in America,” said 8-year-old Arianna’s father Gary Grewal, a management consultant who emigrated from India and now lives in Warren County.
Cross-burning is a practice widely associated with the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan as a reminder of faith. In the early 20th century, the Klan burnt Christian crosses near the homes of those they wished to intimidate, usually African-Americans and Jews.
Ariana helped her mother Alina Grewal hand-paint a bed-sheet banner reading “President Obama — Victory ‘08,” which had been stolen from their yard. Racists returned with the banner and torched it along with a burning cross on Thursday.
“I don’t want anybody to think they can intimidate us or dictate to our family how to live and how to think,” said Alina Grewal. The blatantly racist crime received significant attention on Friday on New York television stations.
The WCBS TV network reported that the New Jersey State Police was treating the incident as a “bias crime” and continuing with a vigorous investigation.
This incident follows another incident on Tuesday night when Ali Kamara, a Black Muslim Staten Island teen, was viciously assaulted by four men with baseball bats in what police believe was a bias attack sparked by Obama’s presidential victory.
Obama’s mother was white and father was black, putting him on track to become the first African-American president. To Obama, race in all its complications has long been a defining part of his life, and he is quite comfortable talking — and even joking — about it. He himself acknowledged on the campaign trail that some voters might worry that “he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills”.
For the most part, Obama has astutely avoided making race a crusade during his election campaign and run instead on issues like the economy and Iraq war tedium with a broad appeal to all Americans.
Obama lost the white vote to Republican John McCain by 12 percentage points, according to exit polls. But it was a better showing than Democrat John Kerry’s 17-point deficit with whites four years ago. US government projections show that by 2042, white people will make up less than half America’s population. Before Obama’s historic win, almost no African Americans expected a black man to become president of the United States.