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In symbolic statement, North Elba council condemns racist graffiti

LAKE PLACID — The North Elba Town Council signed on to a statement on Tuesday condemning racist graffiti that was found in Saranac Lake last month.

News of the graffiti, and the subsequent decision by Adirondack Diversity Initiative Director Nicole Hylton-Patterson to move out of Saranac Lake because she hasn’t felt safe there since it was found, reached a statewide audience last week after Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement condemning the graffiti and directing the New York State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to help village police find the perpetrator.

Part of the village of Saranac Lake, including the railroad bridge where the graffiti was found, lies within the town of North Elba’s boundaries.

The statement approved by the council mirrors a joint statement signed by Rep. Elise Stefanik, five state assembly members, three state senators, six town supervisors, one village mayor, state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos, Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages President Matthew Simpson, Washington County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sam Hall and the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board published in the Enterprise on Tuesday.

“The recent display of racism, hatred and intolerance in our regional community is deplorable and has no place in the Adirondack Park or anywhere in our world,” the statement reads. “When apprehended, the perpetrator, who acted under the cover and cowardice of darkness, should be punished to the greatest extent of the law.”

The statement goes on to say that while the graffiti painted in Saranac Lake doesn’t “speak for, and will not define, our Adirondack communities,” this incident should be an opportunity to “learn, educate and do better.”

“While those hateful words were quickly removed by a well-intentioned community member, we cannot let them fade from our consciousness. Instead, we must ask ourselves what more we can do to stop atrocities like this from ever happening again,” the statement says. “From our living rooms to our children’s classrooms, workplaces to athletic fields, community centers to online message boards, the time has come to recommit ourselves to doing more: More listening, more understanding, more mutual respect.”

Town Councilor Emily Politi said she’d like to work with the Adirondack Diversity Initiative and bring a representative from the organization to a town council meeting.

“I’d love to hear from them,” Councilor Richard Cummings said.

The Lake Placid Village Board of Trustees is set to vote on whether to sign on to the same statement at their regular meeting on Monday.

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