A family who had supported Barack Obama’s presidential campaign emerged from their home in the northwestern New Jersey town of Hardwick Thursday morning to find the charred remnants of a 6-foot wooden cross on their front lawn.
Pieces of a homemade bedsheet banner reading “President Obama , Victory ’08,” which had been stolen from the yard the night before, also were found, leading investigators to believe the banner had been wrapped around the cross before it was set afire. Lt. Gerald Lewis of the New Jersey State Police said his agency is treating the incident as a bias crime.
Police believe the cross, made of two-by-fours bolted to a metal pole like those used to support road signs, was placed on the lawn sometime between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m., and fell over after being set on fire. Homeowner Gary Grewal said he had noticed the Obama banner missing from his lawn the night before and reported it to police.
Grewal said his 8-year-old daughter, Arianna, spotted the banner wrapped around the burnt cross as they walked toward their car to drive to school. “She saw it, that’s what bothered me the most,” Grewal said Thursday. “You can imagine the types of questions she was asking. It was very tough to explain.”