NEWTON, NJ (Sussex County) – Sussex County Board of County Commissioners Director Dawn Fantasia had previously received “significant communication from the public” on an anti-hate resolution, which has continued with online discussions among Fantasia and Sussex County residents.
Varying views of what should be included within the resolution have persisted, since Fantasia countered a resolution proposal brought to the Board at the Jan. 27 meeting, with what she called a more inclusive resolution “sample” during the Feb. 10 meeting.
Fantasia said her sample was created after members of the public expressed that the proposed resolution presented on Jan. 27 was “too narrow.” Fantasia called her draft “inclusive f hate of all kinds” that “covers quite a lot of ground.”
Some members of the public have suggested only “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” hate crimes and activities should be called out in the resolution. These same individuals have stated that events that occurred at the home of Sheriff Michael Strada on separate days in June, when 10 gunshots were fired at his home, in concert with “BLM” – the acronym for “Black Lives Matter” – graffitied near his residence, should not be included in the resolution as a hate example. Some have criticized Fantasia for stating at the Feb. 10 meeting that three arrests were made in the incidents at or near Strada’s home. However, Strada has since provided a correction that there were two individuals arrested on separate dates, not three, for instigating race and hate-driven activities around his home.
While Fantasia’s detractors have attempted to invalidate her claims of any more than one arrest, the Sussex County Watchdog reported on June 28, 2020 about two arrests for the crimes committed near Strada’s home in a Sussex County Watchdog article.
In the Watchdog article about anti-President Donald Trump and anti-police rhetoric (“ACAB” an acronym for “All Cops Are B**tards”) graffitied onto a billboard for Space Farms, the business owned by the family of New Jersey Assemblyman Parker Space, R-24th Dist., it was reported: “This attack on the family of an elected representative of the people comes just weeks after two Black Lives Matter activists were arrested for spray-painting ‘BLM’ and defacing property near the home of the elected Sheriff of Sussex County, Mike Strada. At about the same time, ten shots were fired at the home of Sheriff Strada, while his wife and children were inside. That crime is still under investigation and Governor Murphy’s State Police have not released the name or names of those suspected of perpetrating what could be a case of attempted murder.
Strada confirmed Tuesday that while the shooting crime remains under investigation, a middle-aged, white male was arrested in front of his home on June 11 in the second of two incidents. Strada said a bystander witnessed this individual graffitiing the acronym “BLM” on the street on this date and dialed 911, with the New Jersey State Police subsequently arriving after the call, arresting the perpetrator.
The New Jersey State Police announced in a June 9 press release the suspect in the first incident who spray painted BLM on a street sign, Jacob Drelich, turned himself in on June 2 at the Sussex Station and was charged.
Residents who critiqued the initial anti-hate resolution draft presented to the Board on Jan. 27, suggested that any resolutions of this type should be inclusive of the crimes that targeted both the Strada and Space families; and call out any and all groups that have engaged in hate crimes in the county.
“If you’re going to do that you should encompass any and all hate that we’ve witnessed here in Sussex County,” Fantasia said members of the public suggested to her. Those who have attempted to justify to the Board that “hate crimes” in Sussex County are only committed by those representing “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” groups, have also vigorously pushed the narrative that a large number of Sussex County residents were present in the storming of the Capitol Building on Jan. 6, the same day the Commissioners held their in-person reorganization meeting. A few days later, the Board collectively released a statement condemning violent acts that took place at the Capitol.
The lone person with ties to the county who was arrested for the Capitol events, Scott K. Fairlamb, only moved to Sussex County a year ago and was previously a longtime resident of Morris County’s Borough of Butler, with his driver’s license showing a Stockholm address, according to published reports from The Washington Times and Patch. Within the affidavit for the criminal complaint filed against Fairlamb on Jan. 21, it was noted about his hometown that a person who knew him told authorities Fairlamb “lives in Butler NJ,” with law enforcement having learned through their investigation Fairlamb’s “residential address listed on his driver’s license is Stockholm, New Jersey.”