New Jersey Man Accused Of Harassing Gay Neighbors, Carving Swastika In Their Yard
Scott Cooney, 45, of Lakewood, N.J. has been charged with a hate crime after his neighbors complained to police accusing him of harassment.
Fred Blumberg and Pete Costello have said they have dealt with alleged harassment from Cooney since moving into the Leisure Village community in March, but finally went to police after discovering the swastika on Sunday.
"I was very shocked," Blumberg told BuzzFeed. He said there were also instances in which Cooney allegedly yelled anti-gay slurs to Blumberg and Costello while they were in their yard or tending to their garden.
Police have charged Cooney with bias intimidation, harassment, and criminal mischief, according to WNBC-TV. Blumberg said he and Costello are more at ease now, but worry about when Cooney is released.
Along with carving the swastika in the yard, Blumberg and Costello accuse Cooney of calling them "faggots," making anti-Semitic remarks, and shaking pipes and blunt objects in the air when he would see or encounter them outside.
Despite this, the couple has no plans to leave the community and are urging its governing association and police to be more responsive to their complaints, Blumberg said.
Andrea Bowen, executive director of New Jersey LGBT rights group Garden State Equality — which along with other groups, helped the couple — said this is an example of advocates responding to the community and ensuring people are protected.
"GSE and its allies mobilize and use their resources to make sure our community members truly live better lives," Bowen said in a statement. "We ensure that laws protecting our community are enforced. Our work isn't done until all of our community members can live in peace."