Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Meet the Press December 14, 2005

Harwich Oracle
Modest turnout for 'No Hate' walk

By Donna Tunney
Wednesday, December 14, 2005

There was borscht. French onion. Italian bean. Portuguese kale. Chicken noodle.
In a "celebration of diversity," members of the Harwich No Place for Hate Coalition shared a bowl of soup outside the Community Center Sunday, following a silent walk aimed to show unity among neighbors.

The coalition has gathered steam since a bike path sign on Route 39 was defaced with a swastika a few weeks ago. Sunday's event drew 25 to 30 people - organizer John Bangert had expected more, but told the Oracle it was a good start.
"People are out shopping, a lot of people have been without power in their homes (since Friday's storm).

I'm satisfied with the turnout," he said.
Bangert formed the local No Place for Hate group in response to a cross-burning incident in Sandwich last month, but has considerably stepped up his message in town since the swastika appeared in Harwich.

Three selectmen participated in Sunday's event, which was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on Dec. 10, 1948.

Chairman Ed McManus, vice chairman Robin Wilkins and Don Howell walked with the group and chatted with others over a bowl of soup afterward. The fourth selectmen, Peter Piekarski, wasn't there.

"I had no opposition to the event, I was attending to other responsibilities," Piekarski said Tuesday. In recent weeks, Piekarski has said he wants to research other options before committing the town to this program. "I'm still in the process of looking at options," he said.

Bangert on Monday again appealed to selectmen for their endorsement of the coalition. He spoke during the open public forum, but there was no discussion of the No Hate program, or other options, by selectmen.

The No Place for Hate campaign was started in 1999 by the Anti-Defamation League. Its website describes it as a "community based campaign that empowers participants to challenge anti-Semitism, racism, hate and bigotry of all forms."

Cape Cod Chronical
Three Dozen March For Peace, Tolerance

by Alan Pollock

HARWICH — To send a message that peace is stronger than hatred, a small crowd of people rallied Sunday near the site where a sign was defaced with a swastika earlier this month.

Organized by resident John Bangert, the group gathered outside the Harwich Community Center , where tables were set up under the portico by the council on aging (see related story).

Bangert said the Cape is not immune to acts of hatred and bigotry, and said a five-foot cross was burned in Sandwich in September.

“We have to be outraged about these things,” he said.

Over the weekend of Nov. 26, someone spray-painted a swastika on a bike trail crossing sign on Route 39. Bangert said he doesn’t know who would perpetrate the hate crime.

“I want to compassionately educate this person,” he said.

East Harwich resident Susan Leven was one of the first to report the vandalism to police. On Sunday, Leven and around three dozen others marched from the community center down Oak Street to the bike path, and along the path to Route 39. Near the intersection, the participants took turns reading passages from the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. The group then marched back to the tables outside the community center, where they shared soup and discussion.

Bangert said it is important to speak up against acts of hate, but real action is needed.

“We have to go beyond words and we have to institute a response,” he said. Bangert is lobbying for creation of a local No Place for Hate committee, which would implement that program in Harwich. Designed by the Anti-Defamation League of Philadelphia, the No Place for Hate program encourages communities to take part in activities to challenge anti-Semitism, racism, hate and bigotry. A community which successfully completes three of the activities in a year earns the “No Place for Hate” designation for that year. The activities range from school programs and law enforcement training to special events and essay contests.


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