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Thursday, July 07 2016

HRC to Explore "Not in Our Town" Coalition

Adapted from a Greenfield Human Rights Commission (HRC) press release:

In light of recent racist and anti-Semitic incidents that have transpired in our community, Greenfield's Human Rights Commission (HRC) will discuss the possible creation, promotion, and implementation of a "Not In Our Town" community coalition at its next regular meeting, which will take place on Monday, July 11, 2016, at 6PM, at the Greenfield Town Hall.

Northwestern District Attorney's Office Director of Community Outreach & Education Laurie Loisel will speak to the commission regarding "Not In Our Town" responses in other communities that may serve as inspiration and models for Greenfield.  The "Not In Our Town" project started in 1995 with a PBS special about how the citizens of Billings, Montana, came together to address hate crimes that had occurred in their community.  It became a national movement and a model of how to effectively address racist, anti-Semitic, sexist, and homphobic acts on a community coalition basis.

The first such coalition, and subsequently others, mobilized nonprofit organizations, faith-based groups, law enforcement agencies, schools, businesses, labor unions, community access TV stations, and other stakeholders in order to organize anti-hate actions in the community.  The key of "Not In Our Town" coalitions is bringing together a broad range of community members with the common goal of addressing and preventing hate incidents.

The coalition proposed for Greenfield would be activist, educational, and preventative.  It would seek to hold seminars, trainings, lectures, parades, and dedicated days of awareness in order to highlight issues of hate and demonstrate how to create safe environments in our community.  It would also be a permanent standing committee or coalition of the town which would seek to protect, preserve, and promote Greenfield's unique multicultural heritage in the present and for the benefit of subsequent generations.  Greenfield's HRC is looking at the "Not In Our Town" Project because it provides resources and training for key community stakeholders; including but not necessarily limited to elected and appointed town government officials, educators and students, law enforcement, parents, children, and the larger community.

Greenfield HRC Chairman Lewis Metaxas said, "In the unfortunate wakes of the Pierce Brothers anti-Semtic incidents and the Ricketts email photoshopped racist incidents, we on the commission have been researching and seeking a model or program that may represent a wonderful goodness of fit for Greenfield and the caring, nurturing, and giving community that Greenfield is. This is what we came up with for now as an initial proposal. It's worked in many other communities in a variety of circumstances. Cities and towns. Urban and rural areas. It could very well be beneficial here. We look forward to a rich discussion about it among ourselves and other members of our community."

As always, all are welcome to attend and participate in meetings of the commission.  More information about Greenfield's HRC can be found here and more information about "Not in Our Town" can be found here.

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