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March 1, 2005 > Our Community - Who Belongs

Our Community - Who Belongs

California Attorney General to speak at Anti-Hate forum in Fremont

by Praveena Raman

Although the Tri-City area has become quite culturally diverse in the past several years, there have been some unwelcome incidents aimed at various ethnic groups, leaving some fearing for their safety. In response, the Tri-City area Human Relations Commissions, school districts and PTAs in conjunction with numerous other community organizations will host the anti-hate forum, Our Community - Who Belongs.

In 1997, books in both the Fremont Main and Ohlone College Libraries were defaced with racial slogans. Four years later, the Temple Beth Torah and Washington High School in Fremont were covered with anti-Semitic graffiti. The perpetrators of these hate crimes were caught and the first forum to educate the public was held in October 2000. The forum featured a reformed perpetrator of similar anti-hate crimes.

The following year a forum titled "Hate on the Internet" was held as the previous anti-hate crimes were thought to have been influenced by hate organizations on the Internet. Following the terrorists attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and the ensuing Iraq war, hate crimes against Muslims and Sikhs were on the rise in California. The Tri-City area was not immune to these attacks and fear among the Muslims and Sikhs in the community increased.

To show solidarity and express intolerance of such hateful acts, the following 20 organizations have organized this year's anti-hate forum, to educate the public: American Muslim Voice, Citizens for Better Community, city of Fremont Human Relations Commission, city of Union City Human Relations Commission, Dominican Sisters - Mission San Jose, Facing History and Ourselves, Fremont Chamber of Commerce, Fremont Council PTA, Fremont Unified School District, Islamic Networks Group, Islamic Society of the East Bay, Jewish Community Relations Council of the East Bay, Justice for New Americans, Newark Unified School District, New Haven Unified School District, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund (formerly, SMART), Sikh Community (Gurdwara Sahib), Sisters of the Holy Family and Temple Beth Torah.

The forum will feature California State Attorney General Bill Lockyer as the keynote speaker. Lockyer will put hate incidents into a broader statewide perspective. Also scheduled to speak will be young people from Washington High School representing the student's perspective.

The forum will not only address crimes that are classified as hate crimes but will also foster discussions about those acts that cannot be legally classified as "Hate Crimes" but are definitely hurtful all the same and raise fear among the ethnic groups. Herman Rosenbaum, a lead organizer of the forum, said, "We should be there to protect victims of hate no matter from which country they come. They are all members of our community."

The Our Community - Who Belongs forum will be held on March 10 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Valhalla Hall at Irvington High School, 41800 Blacow Road in Fremont. For more information contact Herman Rosenbaum at HermRosenb@aol.com or at (510) 657-2740.

 
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