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                                Police Investigating An Apparent Hate Crime



                                                                            Ed Forchion's home in Browns Mills, NJ

Burlington County Times

PEMBERTON TOWNSHIP - Marijuana activist Ed Forchion says his family woke up yesterday morning to find someone had spray-painted a 6-foot cross on the side of his house with the words "Get Jesus.''

Police are investigating the incident as an apparent hate crime.

Forchion, who once tried to have his name changed to NJ Weedman, said his wife and children discovered the cross and message at 7 a.m. on the garage door of their Hanover Boulevard home.

First Assistant Burlington County Prosecutor Ray Milavsky said police are investigating the incident as a bias crime, which is defined as one in which a victim is targeted because of race, religion, sexual orientation or national origin.

Forchion, who is black, said he does not view the cross as a racial threat. Instead, he said he sees it as a protest against his religion. Forchion is a follower of Rastafarianism, a religious movement that arose in Jamaica in the 1950s. Followers use marijuana as a sacrament.

Forchion said some people mistakenly think he is an atheist, but that's not true.

"To be honest with you I believe in Jesus. I believe that he was a prophet, not the Messiah," he said.

Forchion said his wife is a Christian, and his children attend a Baptist church.

Forchion, who is running for New Jersey governor, has been a vocal advocate for the legalization of marijuana. He said he often has been criticized and sent threats through e-mail.

"Over the years, I've had a couple people give me the finger," he said. "But no one has ever come to my house."

Forchion, who painted over the cross yesterday afternoon, said he is upset at this latest incident, but won't allow it to stifle his views.

"Something like this, it won't silence me," he said. "Because that would be giving in."




Marijuana activist Ed Forchion is vandalized with graffiti on the garage door of his home in Browns Mills, NJ. Forchion, a Rastafarian, believes the vandalism was a response to his religious views. It is being investigated as a hate crime.


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