EDISON – Campaign signs for Dr. Sudhanshu Prasad, a town councilman running for mayor, were defaced with racist graffiti over the weekend, his campaign said.
“We strongly denounce these deplorable acts,” Prasad and his running mates on the town council slate said in a statement released Monday. “These are cowardly acts of bigotry which have no place in the Township of Edison, nor are they representative of the beliefs and hearts of the good citizens of Edison.”
With red spray-paint, the vandal or vandals wrote, “Never in Edison!” on one side of the sign on Cherry Street, and on the other side wrote “DOTHEAD,” a racist term for Hindus. Prasad is a Hindu and took his oath of office for town council on the Bhagavad Gita.
Someone also spray-painted a symbol that the campaign said resembles a swastika, which was appropriated by the Nazis and is used today by white supremacists. (It should also be noted that the swastika is a symbol of Hinduism, long before its Nazi associations took hold. In Sanskrit, it is an affirmation of the goodness in life.)
Chief Thomas Bryan of the Edison Police Department was in contact with the campaign, and spoke with the county prosecutor’s office.
Prasad, a medical doctor, is running for mayor against incumbent Antonia Ricigliano and fellow councilman Thomas Lankey, all Democrats. Guy Gaspari is on the Republican line in the Democratic-dominated town.
“Dr. Prasad and I, we differ on a lot of things, but I stand shoulder to shoulder with him on this,” Lankey told NJ.com. Whoever is responsible needs to be found and prosecuted. We can’t tolerate this.”
Prasad held a news conference Monday to discuss the events. Ricigliano was in attendance, along with Bryan. Ricigliano said the matter is being investigated by authorities.
“This is something that will not be tolerated in Edison,” Ricigliano said. “We have a diverse community. We’ve not had anything like this that I can recall.”
Running on Prasad’s ticket are Sheila Angalet, Mohin Patel, Steven Nagel, and Cynthia Doherty. Their names were also on the sign.
Edison has a burgeoning Indian-American community, which is becoming increasingly active in local politics. Prasad is the only member of the Indian-American community on the council