MAHWAH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Sacred objects were stolen from the Ramapough Lenape Nation over the weekend, and the theft could me investigated as a hate crime.
Three logs that were carved and blessed and used as part of the outline of the long house where open outdoor prayers are held, disappeared.
“No chopping, no rolling, no splitting. So if they took foresight to pick up, they planned it,” Chief Dwaine Perry, Ramapough Lenape Nation said, “If you have that much intent, it was intended to do damage, pain, and hurt, it was a hate crime.”
Chief Perry and a group came down to the site near Ramapo College and the Polo Club neighborhood on Saturday for what is known as a Letting Go Ceremony.
“It’s a big house, a uweewiikaan we use for spiritual ceremonies same you would do in church or synagogue,” Chief Perry said.
Mayor William Laforet said the incident is being investigated.
“Ramapough Lenape Indians have been here for a very long time, they’re a part of our culture, we’re proud of them as residents. This is deeply concerning to me,” he said.
The chief of police said there is no evidence that heavy machinery was brought in to move the massive logs.
“We have several investigators assigned to the case looking at video images of cars accessing Polo Club, as well as walking the banks of the river, and interviewing neighbors,” Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli said.
Right now it remains a mystery how someone was able to remove the three logs that are more than 8-ft long and weigh more than a ton each.
One theory is that someone took the logs for firewood, the mayor pointed out that Mahwah and other north Jersey towns have a surplus of firewood left over from the winter.