A group of LGBT volunteers were gathered in Asbury Park, NJ on Sunday night preparing for a ‘Stand Against Hate Rally’ scheduled for Labor Day. According to a witness, the group was preparing signs to be used at the rally the next day when they were approached by a man who began to insult the crowd.
The man, who describes himself as a white nationalist, proceeded to attack a trans woman, who was preparing for the rally, with pepper spray.
In a Facebook post that has recently become unavailable, one of the witnesses described the crime.
A hate assault just took place in Asbury Park on Ocean Avenue in front our very eyes. A white nationalist wearing a Pepe the Frog shirt just maced a friend who happens to be trans. In the eyes. Luckily, Asbury Park Police Department arrested this “white nationalist” (his words) and everyone is ok.
We were painting signs. Freaking signs. If you were on the fence about attending the rally tomorrow, please reconsider.
Please join us tomorrow to Stand Against Hate – A Rally For The Victims Of Charlottesville in saying “Not in our town! Not in any town!”
According to a statement by police, the incident occurred at 7:29 p.m. on Sunday evening. The man, Morris May White, 22, had fled the scene following the attack, but was quickly apprehended and arrested. He is being charged with aggravated assault and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Police claim the incident is not being pursued as a hate crime.
“No incident like this will be tolerated,” said John Moor, Mayor of Asbury Park.
“I consider Asbury Park to be one of the few LGBT safe havens in New Jersey,” Christian Fuscarino, leader of the Garden State Equality civil rights group, told New Jersey 101.5. “It’s extremely discouraging that an event like this took place. But I am confident that love and solidarity and understanding is always stronger than extremism and hate.”
According to witnesses, the suspect was wearing a ‘Pepe the Frog’ t-shirt. Pepe the Frog was originally created for a comic by Matt Furie called Boy’s Club. Since its creation, the image has been widely used by the alt-right. The image was added to a database of hate symbols by the Anti-Defamation league in 2016.
Outraged that his creation was being used as a symbol of hate, Matt Furie recently announced that he will donate profits he recovered from the illegal use of his character to a Muslim-American advocacy group.