An anti-hate resolution that promotes tolerance and rejects prejudice and bigotry is a response to the recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and a reminder that Lincoln’s roots included a diverse immigrant population, said Councilman Carl Eskridge.
The resolution says Lincoln is a place that celebrates diversity and inclusion and will not tolerate any prejudice, racism, bigotry, hatred, bullying or violence toward any groups within the community.
The resolution, which has support from both sides of the partisan divide, will be the subject of a public hearing at the council’s Sept. 11 afternoon meeting.
Council Chairman Roy Christensen, a Republican, said he fully supports Eskridge's resolution. “I believe Lincoln needs to continue to be a place where everyone is welcome.”
Councilwoman Cyndi Lamm, a Republican, also strongly supported the resolution in an email.
“There should be no place for hate and violence in our wonderful city,” she wrote. “I have been privileged to advocate for a diverse group of individuals from many backgrounds, countries and cultures — in my district, in the courtroom and at the People's City Mission.”
“When attending the New Americans Task Force meetings, I see and hear about people and community agencies working together to make sure each foreign guest to our city is treated with dignity and respect. We should expect no less,” she said.
“We want to reaffirm the city's commitment to safeguard the civil rights, safety and dignity of all community members," said Councilwoman Leirion Gaylor Baird, a Democrat, who helped draft the resolution.
The resolution said there is “growing concern in the community, based on recent national and regional incidents of white nationalism, hate crimes, discrimination, sexual harassment and assault, and fear of a trend toward more of these crimes in the future.”
The resolution acknowledges the police department’s historic leadership of protecting and respecting the rights of all people, said Gaylor Baird.
And it encourages city employees and Lincoln residents to “speak out against acts of bullying, discrimination and hate violence and to stand up for those who are targeted for such acts."
It is important to take a stand about the kind of community Lincoln is and to say residents are not going to tolerate that kind of behavior in this community, said Eskridge, referring to violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.
The resolution also celebrates Lincoln’s early residents, in light of the sesquicentennial celebration, Eskridge said.
“We needed a ton of people from the very first days of this city and we had to have our doors wide open,” said Eskridge, who researched Lincoln's early days for a Torch Club paper last year.
People came from every state in the union, all the countries of Europe. “There were people from Egypt, the Philippines, South Africa, Greece, Turkey. It is just amazing all these people came to Lincoln,” he said.
And that need for people, for employees, continues, he said.
“We can’t be discouraging people from coming here or chasing people away. It is in our DNA to be welcoming,” he said.
“It seems like a lot of people are looking for reassurance from public leadership that their community has a respect for individual rights and will be safe-guarding all community members," Gaylor Baird said about the anti-hate resolution.
It is hard to know what an individual can do to make a difference, said Gaylor Baird. The resolution suggests making a difference starts with individual conversations and individual acts, she said.
And it calls upon city employees and individuals to speak up against active discrimination or hate violence.
“That is something we all can do,” she said.