Governor Elect Phil Murphy made history today by nominating well respected Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal to be New Jersey’s next Attorney General. Grewal will be the first Sikh-American in history to serve as Attorney General in any state in the U.S.
As a bearded man who wears a turban, Grewal is certainly sensitive to the potential discrimination that individuals can face due to their race, religion and/or ethnicity. He displayed this sensitivity – and, more so, the willingness to act – during the recent battle against Mahwah’s ban against out of state residents using its parks. That ban was aimed to prevent Orthodox Jews from the nearby Monsey area from using Mahwah’s parks.
Prosecutor Grewal was the first major law enforcement official to act against the ban. In a July 27 letter, Grewal instructed Mahwah Police Chief James N. Batelli not to enforce the ban. He cited the fact that enforcement would likely be based on the ethnicity of park goers – targeted against Orthodox Jews – especially since it followed calls from Mahwah residents to police reporting “Hasidic” visitors.
In October, Current Attorney General Christopher Porrino also took a strong stance against Mahwah, filing a complaint in Bergen County Superior Court against the town’s actions, and demanded a return of $3.4 million in state grants received by Mahwah.
Townships near Lakewood, such as Jackson, Toms River, and Howell have also faced criticism and/or legal actions related Township ordinances that target Orthodox Jews in the region. OPRA revelations, including many involved Jackson officials, show that an ugly subtext lay beneath those official actions. The Grewal nomination will likely send a clear message that discrimination will not be tolerated anywhere in New Jersey.
“We congratulate Gurbir Grewal upon his historic nomination,” says Rabbi Moshe Velvel Weisberg of The Lakewood Vaad. “We look forward to working together to ensure that every individual in our state is protected – equally – by the law and its enforcement.”