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The NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference has called for community leaders of Lebanon Countys to condemn a November arson incident involving a raccoon.

On the night of November 16, 2020, two people in a pickup truck deposited a raccoon and set it on fire on the front lawn of John and Ellie Salahub, residents of North Cornwall Township. The truck was captured on home security before driving away.

Read More: Victims of raccoon burning arson come forward, believe it was a hate crime

In a press release issued last week, the organization reiterated the statements made by the Salahubs, who believed the incident to be politically and racially motivated. The couple had put up signs in support of the Joe Biden and Kamala Harris presidential campaign and the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as a sign with the words and image of Martin Luther King Jr.

The Salahubs told LebTown in December that they had had issues with their signs for years, including “passersby shouting profanities and making vulgar gestures at us and our property on almost a daily basis.” According to John Salahub, the frequency of these incidents had accelerated over the course of 2020.

John & Ellie Salahub’s West Oak Street front yard, where a raccoon was set on fire on the night of November 16. (LebTown)

The NAACP stated that the Salahubs had “clearly been targeted in their experiences of hateful acts throughout the years.” The statement asked that the incident be recognized as a hate crime by the North Cornwall Township Police Department, as well as arson and trespassing.

“As we begin 2021, it is time for the leadership of this community, which includes township supervisors, county commissioners, State Representative Frank Ryan, and State Senator Dave Arnold to not only condemn this and any other hate crimes as well address these egregious crimes in a way that puts constituents on notice that such actions are totally unacceptable.”

At the time LebTown spoke with Ellie Salahub in December, she stated that she had “left messages with the staffs of David Arnold and Russ Diamond and Frank Ryan.” She had also discussed the incident with the three Lebanon County Commissioners, Jo Ellen Litz, William Ames, and Robert Phillips, who “all denounced it privately.”

The statement was distributed through the Organizing Committee of the Lebanon County Branch in Formation of the NAACP, which has been working to form a local chapter of the civil rights organization in recent years.

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Joshua Groh

Josh Groh is a Cornwall native and writer who began reporting for LebTown in 2019. He continued to regularly contribute to LebTown while earning a degree in environmental science at Lebanon Valley College, graduating in 2021. Since then, he has lead conservation crews in Colorado and taken on additional...

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