MONTCLAIR, NJ -  Former Montclair Councilor Renee Baskerville has issued a statement regarding a recent matter that occurred in Montclair, where a woman called the police on her neighbors following a dispute that she initiated on their property.

The story made national headlines after video was released when a Montclair resident named Susan Schulz called police on a black family of attorneys, Fareed and Norrinda Hayat, also Montclair residents. According to reports, Susan repeatedly inquired whether or not the family had a permit to complete construction on their patio at their home on Marion Rd. She apparently lives in the home behind them on another street and called the township, who informed the family that permits were not needed for a patio that size, according to the Hayat's.

Montclair Police Deputy Chief Wilhelm Young called the incident a "dispute between neighbors." He stated that neither party filed a police report.

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Following the incident, social media users began calling her 'Permit Karen,' after she walked onto her neighbors property to question whether or not they had a permit for the work they were doing and then followed up by accusing her neighbor, Fareed Nassor Hayat, an attorney and Law Professor at the City University of New York, of pushing her. His wife Norrinda can be heard off camera disputing those claims, to which, Schulz then turns to the neighbors, who had come outside to watch the commotion, who would not corroborate her story. 

On the next day, a group of protesters marched down the street chanting 'Black Lives Matter" and "Hey-hey, ho-ho, your racist ways have got to go."

NOTE: A "Karen" is generally defined as someone who social media users have began jokingly calling women who call police on black people for doing everyday activities such as kids selling lemonade (without a permit), asking her to leash her dog in Central Park, mowing the lawn, and the like. It is generally a placeholder for speaking about the casual racism and privilege exhibited by some white women. Black Twitter is known for coining these names to describe racial microaggressions that black people face doing daily activities. There are also other names like "Becky," which has also come to symbolize a certain stereotype of white women. 

Fareed stated, "Susan, aka "Permit Karen,” came onto our property three times within thirty minutes to demand to know if we had the proper permit to install a stone patio in our backyard, on the other side of the fence of her yard. When asked if a permit was required by law, she said she didn’t know, but insisted we answer her questions and submit to her demands, or she would call the police to force us to stop improving our home. (A permit is not required in Montclair for a stone patio this size)."

The Facebook video widely circulated on social media shows Schulz, who works for the Environmental Protection Agency, outside of the Hayat home and arguing with several people as she calls police on her cell phone. After filming the rally, the person recording said it was "peaceful and respectful, only going back and forth on the small street."

Baskerville wrote, in response to the incident, saying, "Training by Montclair elected officials and executives may be in order. For, it appears to me that it may be a civil offense or a crime for a person to falsely report an incident to the police. If falsely reporting an incident to the police with the intent of interfering with the person(s) in the free exercise of their constitutionally and statutorily protected rights, or casting them in a false light, is not a civil offense or a crime in Montclair, the City Council should explore making it both a civil and criminal offense."

However, during the council meeting, Township Attorney Ira Karasick stated that an ordinance could not be developed since a state law addressing that already exists.

Baskerville continued by calling for consequences, saying, "I am respectfully requesting that the Town Councilor  Karasick explore the full range of laws available to the Township and/or the victimized family for meting out justice for the pernicious and unseemly actions of Susan.  Unhinged Susan cannot simply return to her residence exposed for her dastardly deeds that are of dubious legality, and which caused anticipated damages. Susan must be called to atone for her actions under the laws she may have violated."

She continued, calling for the involvement of the DOJ, stating, "Given that  Susan’s actions occurred in the midst of the Black Lives Matter Movement—dubbed the Third Reconstruction-- the U.S. Department of Justice might be called upon to determine whether  Susan’s actions are actionable under the U.S. Hate Crimes Act; and the State’s Attorney might have a cause of action against Susan under a New Jersey Hate Crimes Act."

Fareed Nassor Hayat, initially wrote on Facebook:

"It has happened again. White entitlement and black hate embodied in Susan who lives on Marion Road and works at the EPA, called the police to lodge a false report of assault against me when told to leave our property. Susan, aka "Permit Karen,” came onto our property three times within thirty minutes to demand to know if we had the proper permit to install a stone patio in our backyard, on the other side of the fence of her yard. When asked if a permit was required by law, she said she didn’t know, but insisted we answer her questions and submit to her demands, or she would call the police to force us to stop improving our home. (A permit is not required in Montclair for a stone patio this size.

This fact was known to us through our own independent research, our contractor and later verified when building and safety arrived at our home to investigate her complaint.) When challenged about her flawed legal conclusions, assumption of right, her lack of agency over our home and our eventual demand that she leave our property immediately, Susan decided to call the police and make a false report of assault. She invoked centuries of brutality in her call to the police and sought to put her black neighbors back in their place. She believed that we were required to answer her questions and smile while doing so.

But to her surprise, her efforts were met by two proudly black human beings, parents, lawyers, law professors, activist, community members, neighbors, citizens and fighters, who refused to submit. Her efforts were also met by a collection of largely white neighbors, who refused to simply go along with her racist efforts or not stand up against her attempt to invoke the racist power of the state through police. Their efforts were antiracist ideology at work. Each neighbor declared to her and the police that she summoned, that she was a lie and no such assault occurred. She left our home, rejected and unfulfilled, yet still empowered to do future harm. To her Black Lives Don’t Matter when up against her presumed inalienable rights of whiteness. She did not see the flaw in her ways or apologize for her behavior. Her type, the racist, must be rejected and ostracized like she was today by Norrinda and I, but equally important, by our white neighbors here in Montclair and our white and non-white allies worldwide."

Baskerville wrote in response, the following: 

I am writing this open letter in response to correspondence I received from several Montclairions who expressed righteous indignation stemming from the fact that it appears as though in the Township of Montclair, a resident, Susan, or any other white person, can freely and intentionally interfere with black residents, in the free exercise of their constitutional and statutorily protected rights, with impunity.

The correspondence I received was in response [to] a black family, having been harassed by a white neighbor for over a year. The situation spiraled out of control when recently, as the black family was on their property working to enhance the property,  Irate Susan, a white female, approached them and became verbally abusive. So aggreges and menacing was her behavior that at one point one of the parents asked the other to take the children into the house, as their minor children were observing the bizarre behavior.

At one point, Irate Susan intentionally, wantonly, and recklessly solicited the involvement of the Montclair Police Department in the matter, by knowingly and willfully making an untrue complaint against residents, with the intent of interfering with them in the free exercise of their constitutionally and statutorily protected rights. Susan’s actions immediately cast a pall on the family, disrupted the family from engaging in lawful actions on their property, caused them fear, trepidation, and a sense of insecurity, while engaging in activities well within their rights on their property.

One person who wrote to me recommended a review of police procedures and training as a way of better equipping the Montclair Police Department to handle situations such as that arising from the actions of Susan. To my knowledge, there is no suggestion that the Montclair Police Department failed to respond appropriately on that day. There may have been previous police reports of which I am not aware.

Training by Montclair elected officials and executives may be in order. For, it appears to me that it may be a civil offense or a crime for a person to falsely report an incident to the police. If falsely reporting an incident to the police with the intent of interfering with the person(s) in the free exercise of their constitutionally and statutorily protected rights, or casting them in a false light, is not a civil offense or a crime in Montclair, the City Council should explore making it both a civil and criminal offense. The New York law might be instructive, under which Amy Cooper was charged--the 41 year old white woman who was caught on video threatening to call the police on a black man in Central Park, stating that she was “going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” when there were no such threats. 

Perhaps under current State laws, policies, and practices,  or under the US. Constitution and perhaps the State Constitution, what  Susan did may be actionable by Township officials and others tasked with upholding the laws of our township. The Township and all of us who are freedom-loving people, who reside in Montclair should support such an action. Many people, like the family involved in the referenced matter, moved here three years ago, in part, because of its reputation as a welcoming community that values and works to ensure diversity, inclusion, and dignity of all persons.  That people not only from the immediate neighborhood, but residents from across the Township went to the residence of the family under assault to lend support or simply stand in solidarity was uplifting; another testament of who we Montclairions are. That the neighbors who witnessed the dastardly lies told by Susan to the police immediately indicated that Susan’s story was simply farcical, was another heartwarming indication of who we Montclairions are. 

I am respectfully requesting that the Town Councilor  Karasick explore the full range of laws available to the Township and/or the victimized family for meting out justice for the pernicious and unseemly actions of Susan.  Unhinged Susan cannot simply return to her residence exposed for her dastardly deeds that are of dubious legality, and which caused anticipated damages. Susan must be called to atone for her actions under the laws she may have violated.

I am not a lawyer, and I am not offering legal advice, but it seems to me that if there are  no other adequate laws to bring Susan to justice, the counsel might explore actions under the United States Constitution, especially the Reconstruction Acts designed to protect blacks against both private citizens and government actors from interfering with black people, and later others, while engaging in private protected actions, going and coming in a township as they please, and otherwise living as good citizens, under 42 USC 1983 and1981.  

Given that  Susan’s actions occurred in the midst of the Black Lives Matter Movement—dubbed the Third Reconstruction-- the U.S. Department of Justice might be called upon to determine whether  Susan’s actions are actionable under the U.S. Hate Crimes Act; and the State’s Attorney might have a cause of action against Susan under a New Jersey Hate Crimes Act. 

I agree with those who have written and called me. Something more must be done.  I stand ready to do whatever I can to be of assistance in this matter. As a life-long resident of Montclair and champion of its residents, I will continue working indefatigably to prod the Township to realize the ideals upon which Montclair stands, and those that attract people to move and  to remain in our Town.  

 With thanksgiving and joy,

 Renee E. Baskerville, M.D.

One Voice, Montclair!

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