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Friday, June 10 2016

HRC to Address Hope Street Harassment

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

The Greenfield Human Rights Commission will hold a public hearing on Monday evening, June 13, 2016, at 6PM, at the Greenfield Town Hall, on an alleged series of antisemitic threats and harrasment directed at businesses and residents of the Hope Street area.

The Commission has become aware that a neighborhood disagreement regarding the smell of coffee roasting in the air on Hope Street has become a situation of alleged continuing antisemitic threats and harassment. Darren and Sean Pierce, co-owners of Pierce Brothers Coffee Roasters of Hope Street, have stated that their employees have become the subject of frequent harassment including, but not limited to, antisemitic remarks and feel threatened in doing business and living in the community as a result.

The antisemtic remarks at issue allegedly include a threat to set fire to the Pierce Brothers Coffee Roasters building to "make it like the next Auschwitz" in an apparent attempt to refer to the Jewish heritage of a member or members of the Pierce family.  These concerns were expressed recently by Darren Pierce who stated that, "My family's been threatened...and we've been subjected to antisemitic and hate crimes committed against us." Further, the staff and owners of another Hope Street business have been approached by the neighbor at issue demanding they not carry Pierce Brothers coffee in their place of business.

Greenfield Human Rights Commission Chairman Lewis Metaxas has conducted a preliminary inquiry into the matter, consisting of interviews with the parties, residents, and businesses involved.  Metaxas found reasonable cause to believe that antisemitic threats and harassment were, and continue to be, perpetrated upon a series of individuals and businesses on Hope Street and has referred the matter to the full Human Rights Commission for a public hearing, investigation, finding of facts, and potential action plan.

Metaxas said, "I find this to be extraordinarily serious. Just as serious is the need to protect the individuals, employees, and residents of this neighborhood from working and living under this cloud of threatening behavior. So I'm also recommending that the Commission look at discussing, explaining, and advocating in a proactive manner steps that can be taken to help with that protection."

Darren and Sean Pierce have been invited to address the commission, as has Greenfield Police Chief Robert Haigh. Also, the Commission is anticipated to review and discuss pertinent state laws pertaining to civil rights violations, hate crimes, and civil injunctions that are available to victims and that the state Attorney General's Office may be of assistance with. After the testimony, findings of fact, and state statutory review, the commission is expected to discuss and possibly adopt an action plan on behalf of those who may be aggrieved and on behalf of the community.

The public hearing is open to all and all who may be interested are encouraged to speak.