“Not in Our Town” site shows communities how to fight back against hate crimes

LatinaLista — The November 2008 murder of Marcelo Lucero on Long Island, New York by a group of teens shocked everyone for its brutality and senselessness. The notion that these kids hunted Marcelo for sport can’t help but disgust rational minds and cause people to take a fresh look at how hate-filled crimes impact their communities and their children.

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Usually, when something of this magnitude happens anywhere, the first response is the disbelief of how it could happen in my town? Unfortunately, as we see and hear in the news everyday, these kinds of things are happening more frequently.

Yet, with no way to fight back against these kinds of hate crimes — other than writing a Letter to the Editor — communities feel helpless at stopping the spread of hate in their towns — until now.

Tomorrow, a new site launches called Not in Our Town.

Not In Our Town (NIOT) is a national movement that encourages and connects people who are responding to hate and working to build more inclusive communities.

Not In Our Town began with a PBS documentary that told the story of how people in Billings, Montana joined together to respond to a series of hate crimes in their town. This simple, powerful story of citizens banding together struck a chord with audiences, and created a model that inspired viewers around the country to hold their own campaigns against intolerance. Now in its second decade, the Not In Our Town movement continues to grow.

The site features: a national map pinpointing those areas of the country that have experienced hate crimes and the communities fighting back; a blog where readers can send messages of support to families/communities impacted by hate crimes; the opportunity for groups and communities to set up their own pages on the site to foster discussions about what is happening in their local communities and the materials and tools needed to download and read about how to start a local “Not in Our Town” campaign.

With the increasing incidence of bullying and intolerance displayed by teens, the site also addresses campaigns specifically for schools under the banner “Not in Our School.

When ordinary people decide to take action in the face of hate and intolerance, it can send a powerful message to the whole country.
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