‘You are animals who disgust me’: A school board candidate’s history of racist Facebook posts

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.

August 18, 2018 at 4:15 PM

(Getty Images / iStock)

Richard Jankowski used Facebook to spew plenty of race-based vitriol — against former president Barack Obama, NBA player LeBron James or anyone supporting affirmative action — but in August 2014, as protesters poured into the streets over the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., Janowski boiled over.

“You g—–n animals in Missouri make me sick!” he typed in the public post originally reported by the New Jersey Globe, a political reporting site. “Another black criminal gets killed after assaulting a white cop and you pieces of s–t want justice? You are not Americans, you are animals who disgust me.”

Eight months later, Ferguson was on his Facebook page again, as he called for violence against protesters.

“So now I watch videos of the ‘protesters’ throwing trash cans and any other items at any white person they see…….time to start firing bullets into these f—–g monkeys and send them to their graves.”

Jankowski is one of six candidates running for three open seats on the school board in Monroe Township, N.J. In the district’s high school, more than a third of students identify as minorities, according to U.S. News & World Report.

It is not uncommon for news organizations to look closely at the backgrounds of people running for elective office. What is uncommon is for disparaging information to be laid out in a public social media post, easy for the world to see.

In posts uncovered by the Globe, whose article included images of Jankowski’s Facebook page, the candidate made insensitive or insulting remarks about: blacks, gays, people with mental disabilities, protesters, kneeling NFL players and specifically Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, O.J. Simpson, Caitlyn Jenner, Trayvon Martin, affirmative action supporters, NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, Cher and “whoever the hell Moby is” — in addition to Obama, James and the protesters in Ferguson.

He offered apologies, conversely, to “my law abiding, hard working black friends that feel as though I have insulted them, it couldn’t be further from the truth.”

His personal Facebook page and the one for his campaign had both been deactivated or set to private by Saturday morning, and Jankowski did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Members of his community, meanwhile, were speaking out, either distancing themselves from Jankowski’s splenetic remarks or mobilizing to make sure he doesn’t attain the office he seeks.

Education leaders in the community said Jankowski’s comments do not reflect the board he was campaigning to join. The closest he’s come to the school board was being “vocal” at some meetings, Board of Education Vice President James Henderson told NJ.com.

Monroe Township Board of Education President George Caruso told NJ.com that anything Jankowski has said “doesn’t pertain to any school business. That’s between that gentleman and the rest of the community. He’s not on the school board.”

Related: [A teen spread a racist video of a black classmate eating chicken. Both face criminal charges.]

When Loretta Winters, the head of the Gloucester NAACP, heard about Jankowski’s comments, she mobilized an effort to ensure he never took a seat on the dais of the school board.

“You can’t refer to black folks or anybody as monkeys or animals,” she told The Washington Post. “And to say that ‘we need to get our guns out, and be shooting them,’ to me that’s almost a terroristic threat against any people of color.”

She said that similar reports ran in a local newspaper this week and that the next morning she received a phone call from Jankowski.

He “apologized profusely,” she said. More important, he told her he was dropping out of the race.

She said she accepted his apology but felt that he showed contrition only because “he got exposed.”

“Even though some of these comments were made a couple years ago, that’s who you are,” she said. “He cannot represent our children and our diverse community with thoughts like that.”

This post initially gave an inaccurate location for Monroe Township. This post has been corrected and updated. 


Cleve Wootson is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post. He was previously a reporter for the Charlotte Observer.

New Jersey’s Public Schools Still Among Most Segregated in Nation

Almost 10 percent of all students attend “apartheid schools,” where 99 percent or more of the student body is nonwhite


The unflattering ranking has grown all too familiar: New Jersey is home to some of the most segregated public schools in the country.

The latest statistics come courtesy of report released last week by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, an organization that has tracked school segregation nationwide for decades and consistently found New Jersey in the bottom 10.

The new numbers offer some striking facts:

For instance, the percentage of New Jersey schools that are 90 percent nonwhite has doubled since 1990 to one-in-five. Those that are 99 percent or more nonwhite has also doubled to 8 percent of all schools.

A quarter of black students now attend such schools, labeled in the report as “apartheid schools.”

“While New Jersey has taken historic steps to equalize funding for high-poverty schools, segregation has gone largely unchecked,” said Gary Orfield, the director of the Civil Rights project.

This comes as New Jersey itself has only grown more diverse. For the first time in the project’s tracking, white students made up a minority of overall enrollment, at 46 percent of all students in 2015-2016. At the same time, the proportion of Hispanic (26 percent) and Asian (10 percent) students both continued to grow.

Coupled with a sizable but shrinking African-American enrollment (16 percent), the project defined New Jersey as a “four-race” state when it came to student makeup.

New Jersey has plenty of company, according to the chief author of the report, with few states showing much progress.

“In some cases, it’s at least not getting worse,” said Orfield, who has been tracking the numbers for more than 20 years.

Still, he said the issue is starting to generate new attention in many states, if not new policy. “There is developing intensive conversation around this,” he said. “We are getting more requests and more interest than we have in a long time.”

New Jersey is one such a state, albeit with little as yet coming out of the politicians or policymakers in terms of remedies.

The issue was hardly on the radar for Gov. Chris Christie in his past eight years of office, and Gov.-elect Phil Murphy has yet to say much about what he would do concerning segregation of the state’s schools.

When asked by NJ Spotlight at the first of the gubernatorial debates this fall about his position on school consolidation and regionalization as one remedy, Murphy did decry the wide disparities.

“The reality is that we are the most or among the most segregated states in the nation,” he said.

But Murphy was less clear on what steps would come next, placing a common blame on segregated housing patterns and also claiming additional school funding would help.

“With all due respect, getting those two policy areas in the right place would be a big way in getting at the segregated state we’re in,” Murphy said.

Beyond that, the governor-elect only called for more attention to shared services between districts and maybe the appointment of a “czar” to shepherd such efforts statewide.

Legislators have yet to pay much attention, either, and the question comes next to whether New Jersey’s courts will get involved. The state’s constitution specifically prohibits segregation in the public education system, opening a window for a challenge that has yet to be raised.

Orfield said that while he presses for voluntary methods, the courts may provide a lasting remedy. He pointed to a state court order in Connecticut that has led to widespread desegregation efforts.

“The state courts can do a lot, just look at Connecticut,” Orfield said. “The state courts are the one place where people may start to pay attention.”

Does New Jersey’s anti-bullying law address racism in schools?


A Camden County lacrosse team’s season was canceled this month after students from Haddonfield uttered a racial slur at a member of the Sterling High School track team in Somerdale.

In a similar incident last weekend, members of Linwood’s Mainland Regional High School boys crew team were accused of taunting a black rower on Absegami High School’s crew team during a meet at Lake Lenape in Mays Landing. The punishment for those students has not been disclosed by the Mainland superintendent, but The Press has been told the boys involved have been removed from the team.

State data show such incidents are on the decline in schools, which many attribute to New Jersey’s anti-bullying law. The 2010 law established procedures and reporting requirements to help districts deal with harassment, intimidation and bullying, known collectively to school officials as HIB.

But under the law, how punishments for those incidents are doled out is entirely up to the school district.

Greater Egg Harbor Regional Superintendent John Keenan, who oversees three high schools, including Absegami, said there is no “one-size-fits-all” discipline for a violation because each situation is unique.

State data show most HIB violations result in detentions as well as individual counseling and parent and student conferences.

Christopher Kobik, superintendent of the Lower Cape May Regional School District, said racial bias may extend beyond the scope of the HIB law.

“HIB can address it when it fits; however, bias by definition has a wider scope that extends beyond individuals to practices and organizations,” Kobik said, noting his district references affirmative action policies for guidance, as well.

Although there haven’t been studies on its effectiveness, Rutgers University psychology professor Paul Boxer said the HIB law is successful in placing accountability on schools.

“There’s no leeway as far as schools not being able to follow every step. … I think it’s also a good thing in terms of really making it clear to students the potential severity of what they’ve done,” said Boxer, director of the Center on Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, who was also involved in making recommendations to the state regarding the law.

Data show most HIB incidents in New Jersey are related to “other distinguishing characteristics” of a person, but the second most prevalent target is a person’s race.

Kaleem Shabazz, president of the Atlantic City NAACP, said schools are doing a good job in reacting to racism, but there needs to be more “proactive” work, especially during a time when people may feel more emboldened to make such comments.

“We have to do more to prevent some of these incidents and let people know they should not interact with people like that,” Shabazz said. “It’s hard to look at ourselves and say we have ingrained racist feelings … but unfortunately, it’s here.”

He said the local NACCP is working with the Anti-Defamation League and offered to provide resources to schools in Atlantic County to combat racism and bullying.

Experts say there is no easy explanation for why students make racist comments. In the case at Lake Lenape, Boxer said the fact that a competition was going on could have been a contributing factor. Boxer said kids may also feel more empowered when they are in a group setting.

“They get messages from their parents, they get messages from the media about what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate,” Boxer said. “It’s not like racism in American society is something that just came out of nowhere.”

Keenan said training is a big part of a school’s anti-bullying procedures, and that involves not only staff but students. Many schools also have anonymous reporting apps such as STOPit, which is used by the Greater Egg schools.

Regardless of the punishment, Absegami’s Myasia Joga wants an in-person apology from the students at Mainland Regional High School who she says taunted her.

“I need to read that they apologized, but it still isn’t enough,” the 16-year-old told The Press of Atlantic City earlier this week.

Mainland has apologized in writing. Superintendent Mark Marrone declined to comment on the situation further.




ASBURY PARK, NJ – Garden State Equality (GSE) will be bringing on their newest team member, Dr. Tyree Oredein, as the Safe Schools Coordinator for North Jersey. The program is being funded by a grant awarded to GSE by PSE&G.

With demand for GSE’s Teach and Affirm Program increasing, the hiring of their second Safe Schools Coordinator will enable the organization to visit even more schools and develop more outreach materials and curricular resources in the upcoming school year.

“We are confident that having two Safe Schools Coordinators will also enhance our ability to host more special activities, such as our youth caucus program, new Library Series, our Educators for Equality program, and education conferences that extend our reach,” said Denise Rodriguez, Garden State Equality Director of Development. “We know that youth are influenced by their peers, and creating additional projects and activities that are youth-directed will bolster our message of inclusion and effectuate even greater positive changes in the communities we serve across New Jersey.”

In October of 2017, GSE hired a Safe Schools Coordinator, Ashley Chiappano, who enhanced their anti-bullying program, Teach and Affirm, and expanded their reach to more schools and youth-based organizations across New Jersey. Since bringing on Chiappano less than a year ago, their Safe Schools Program has provided over 70 workshops, trainings, and information sessions that have reached hundreds of youth, parents, community leaders, and educators across the State.

Despite a substantial amount of progress, GSE still looks to expand their work further in NJ schools. Moving forward, the organization anticipates making additional developments in the area of their anti-bullying programming, along with continued outreach to schools. Having a second Safe Schools Coordinator designated to North Jersey provides GSE a broader reach to school districts and other youth-based organizations.

Dr. Oredein has an extensive background in creating and ensuring safe spaces for sexual minority youth in academic, professional, social service, and community settings. Since 2005, she has delivered hundreds of Professional Development training workshops to more than 5,000 administrators, educators, social service & medical providers, police officers, correction officers, graduate and undergraduate students, high school students, peer educators, and community members.

Additionally, Dr. Oredein has facilitated numerous workshops on HIV/AIDS, PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), STIs, sexuality, healthy relationships, media and health literacy, and other pertinent topics affecting youth. She has visited K through 12 settings to deliver presentations on anti-bullying and acceptance in an effort to create safer spaces in schools and has been a fixture at various LGBTQIA+ youth forums and summits across New Jersey. She also sits on the Board of Directors for Say Ah!, a non-profit agency dedicated to increasing health literacy, and she is an adjunct professor at Montclair State University in the Department of Public Health.

Dr. Oredein, who received her Doctorate of Public Health (Dr.P.H.) from Rutgers University, her Masters of Public Health (M.P.H) from Hunter College, and a Bachelor’s Degree from Wellesley College, began her work as the GSE Safe Schools Coordinator for North Jersey on Wednesday, August 15, 2018.

Identifying & Understanding Bias Crime


Identifying and Understanding

The mission of the Bias Crime Unit, located within the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, is the statewide coordination of efforts to eliminate crimes motivated by prejudice against others based on race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender, disability or ethnicity.

The Bias Crime Guide is designed to provide our citizens with useful and pertinent information to assist them in identifying, fighting, and eliminating Bias and Hate Crimes in the State of New Jersey.

Only through the committed, collaborative efforts of all concerned will we be able to create a society free of bias and prejudice.

What is a Bias or Hate Crime?

A person is guilty of a bias intimidation crime under New Jersey law if he commits, attempts to commit, conspires with another to commit, or threatens the immediate commission of an offense with the purpose to intimidate an individual or group of individuals because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity.

Such an offense also constitutes a bias intimidation crime if the manner in which the offense is committed causes the victim to reasonably believe either:

  1. that the offense was committed with a purpose to intimidate the victim because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity; or
  2. that the victim or his property was selected to be the target because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity.

These offenses are a distinctive category and are more likely to involve a heightened assault and injury level or serial attacks of escalating severity. There are often multiple assailants and the victims generally do not know their offenders. As a result of these offenses, there is often a spiral of community violence and extended psychological trauma for victims.

The Underlying Causes of Bias & Hate Crimes

  1. The continuing demographic change in the United States as the population becomes more diverse.
  2. The continuing shift to a service economy and the economic uncertainties that provides a source of conflict between groups.
  3. Prevalence of negative stereotypes in our culture, as well as an atmosphere of intolerance in politics and public debate.
  4. Racial division among our youth and in schools, the persistence and continued vitality of hate groups, and continued violence by minorities against members of their own race.
  5. Lack of hope among some ethnic groups.

Who Are Often Victims?

  1. The skin color black represents the group most frequently victimized by bias crimes.
  2. The Jewish religion represents the religious group crimes.
  3. The gay and lesbian community.
  4. Immigrants and all other ethnic groups

Types of Bias / Hate Crimes:

  • Harassment
  • Terroristic Threats
  • Criminal Mischief
  • Assault
  • Arson
  • Homicide

Information Needed When Reporting a Hate Crime

  1. The name and address of the victim
  2. The time and place where the crime occurred
  3. The type of crime committed.
  4. The description and license plate number of vehicle involved in crime.
  5. A description of the perpetrator – i.e., race, sex, height, weight, scars, tattoos, hair color and style, clothing and jewelry. Provide the name or street name if known.

Laws Protecting People Against Bias or Hate Crimes

Since 1979, nearly every State in the United States has enacted some form of bias crime statute. The most common statues are penalty enhancement and criminal civil rights statues. Other types of statues include institutional vandalism laws, cross-burning statutes, anti-masking laws and laws prohibiting interference with religious worship.

Penalty Enhancements Statutes

These statutes increase the penalty for existing criminal offenses when a victim is targeted, based in whole or in part on the perception or beliefs of the actor, because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity of that person, owner or occupant of that property, regardless of whether or not the perpetrator’s belief was correct.

Civil Rights & Ethnic Intimidation Statutes

Unlike the penalty enhancements, these statutes do not require the charging of an underlying offense, such as an assault. However, prosecutors still have the option of charging additional offenses, such as assault, when applicable.

Institutional Vandalism Statutes

These statutes prohibit vandalism and other willful property damage to churches, synagogues and cemeteries. These laws have been enacted in approximately 40 states.

How to Report a Bias/Hate Crime

Always Dial 911 To Report A Crime In Progress!If you need to report an emergency situation, dial 9-1-1!

To report a Bias Crime, or if you believe you are a target of bias crime, REPORT IT! Contact the Union County Prosecutor’s Bias Crime Unit at 1-800-527-4500. You can also call the State Bias Crime Unit at 1-800-277-BIAS (2427).