Be on guard against bigotry
Some bigots, racists, misogynists, supremacists and others have taken the recent campaigns and election as license to act on their proclivities to threaten and abuse people who do not meet with their approval.
The Southern Poverty Law Center documents a clear spike nationwide in hate incidents leading up to and immediately after the election.
Relatively speaking, Saranac Lake has NOT been as troubled as other parts of the country. Historically, hate incidents in the North Country have been infrequent, and when they have happened, local citizens came forward with information that led to prosecutions, making it clear that haters are not wanted here. The Adirondack Almanack of June 22, 2013, reproduced a newspaper headline from 1924 that read,“GLENS FALLS MOB STORMS KLAN MEETING, Windows Smashed, Stones, Clubs and Bottles Hurled.”
Recently, however, the North Country has had a homophobe threatening a professor online; a restaurant owner being taunted, whose decorations were vandalized, and he was nearly run off the road; a woman getting gas at night was threatened and followed on the road for many miles after refusing a sexual command from a man who stated she’d have to comply after the inauguration; and others have been taunted with racial epithets. None of these incidents were in Saranac Lake.
To lesser extant, BUT NO LESS REPREHENSIBLE, is the taunting and verbal abuse directed at some students by their “liberal” classmates.
The SPLC Hate Map locates branches of the Klu Klux Klan in Plattsburgh and Burlington and a branch of the Fatima Crusader in Constable. The SPLC states Fatima Crusader members may make up the largest single group of serious anti-Semites in America.
While I wouldn’t expect any hate incidents or hate crimes to occur in Saranac Lake, I wouldn’t have expected any of the above to happen either, but they have. We all seem to be living in unexpected times.
Locally we have three Chinese restaurants with Asian employees. There are several immigrant families that own other businesses; their children go to our schools. We have two colleges with students from out of the area, one of which takes foreign exchange students, and we have other friends and neighbors who may not meet with the approval of the aforementioned haters.
I have full confidence that Saranac Lakers, after a brief period of shock, would respond appropriately to any hate incident or hate crime REGARDLESS of political sympathies. However, I thought it might be prudent to have a “hate incident response team” already in place to respond to any incidents or crimes that may occur over the next years.
Toward that end, I am announcing the formation of Safe Saranac Lake. Those who join will:
¯ Be placed on a notification tree to be alerted in the event there is a hate incident in Saranac Lake and how to respond.
¯ Commit nonviolent acts to prevent or impede our immigrant families from being torn apart.
¯ Help bail out and/or pay the fine of someone who been has arrested for such a nonviolent act.
¯ Wash or paint over a hate related image off a private or public surface.
¯ Support contraceptive services, and cancer and sexual infection screening and treatment should Planned Parenthood’s federal funding be cut.
¯ Help a victim repair or replace the effects of hate-related vandalism.
¯ Provide our law-abiding residents with the legal protection they and their families may need to prevent their deportation.
¯ Become, if not already, a member of the ACLU, SPLC, NAACP or other civil rights organization.
¯ Aid, support and protect any Jew or Muslim, gay or straight, Republican or Democrat, male or female, or ANY member of OUR Saranac Lake community who is violently threatened, victimized or attacked by bigots, misogynists, xenophobes, racists or others; endeavor to assist finding their attackers; and see that they are arrested and prosecuted.
Joining Safe Saranac Lake and wearing a SSL safety pin means that no matter how hostile or divisive things in the United States may become, you will stand up and say, NOT in OUR village, NOT in OUR towns, NOT in SARANAC LAKE!
If you wish to join SSL, send your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll put you on the notification list and send you your very own safety pin!
I would encourage those in Tupper Lake, Lake Placid, and other communities to form their own hate incident response team.
Vincine Fallica lives in Saranac Lake.