Residents in Edison, NJ, received a stunningly racist political ad calling for the deportation of two Asian American and Indian American school board candidates in the mail on Wednesday. “Make Edison Great Again,” the mailer’s reverse side reads, next to their photos. “These Chinese and Indians are taking over our town!”
Last night, Splinter was emailed images of the ads via our tips line.
Jerry Shi, whose photo is on the ad, already sits on the Edison township school board, a position he was appointed to. He is running for re-election in the city’s general election that takes place next week. Falguni Patel, an immigration lawyer, holds an unelected committee position on the board with Shi. Her run for one of Edison’s three open school board seats is her first political campaign.
Local radio station NJ101.5 spoke to Patel. Here’s how she responded:
“I’m obviously disgusted by it, to say the least,” said Falguni Patel, the 32-year-old immigration lawyer whose name and picture appears on the pamphlet. “I didn’t expect anything like that. We live in a such diverse town, it’s very shocking somebody would put that in writing.”
“I was born and raised in New Jersey. To see the word ‘deport’ on my picture — where are you going to deport me to? Really, it’s just outrageous.”
A list of equally bigoted demands appears on the mailer’s front side. “Stop overcrowding! Stop taking over our sports fields! Stop the McMansions! Stop the multiple families living in the same house! Stop wasting school holidays,” it states. “Let’s take back our Edison.”
A majority of Edison’s 100,000 residents are Asian, according to Census data, and the community is predominately made up of Chinese and Indian immigrants. Anonymously mailed political ads are illegal under state election laws and, as NJ101.5 noted, no group has taken credit for its delivery.
Several candidates in Edison’s other races, however, have decried the ad. Keith Hahn, a Republican mayoral candidate, said he would “track down” the sender in a Facebook post. “Disgraceful and offensive campaign tactics cannot be tolerated,” Hahn wrote. “I will track down the anonymous cowards behind this piece.” The Associated Press reported that authorities are investigating.
Edison’s Democratic mayoral candidate, Tom Lankey, also denounced the anonymously mailed ad. “It has become a sad reality that in our polarized political atmosphere, some people suddenly feel empowered to publicly express these vile ideas,” he said in a statement. “Make no mistake, we will do everything we can to expose the shameful people behind this.”