Tri-State Times - Sunday October 1, 2000

Original Post - Tri-State News Network, Inc. (News Editor: Paul Lester) at
Reposted with Permission

Second anti-hate gathering draws overflow crowd

The message was simple and upbeat ... offer a non-confrontational and positive response to hate. If a cross is burned, plant flowers. That from Bob Hillman, Chairman of the Unity Coalition of the Poconos, a key speaker at the gathering Wednesday night in Milford. Another point ... if an incident, like graffiti happens, shame on the person who did it ... but if the graffiti stays there for a week, shame on the community.

Hillman said the message is getting through in Stroudsburg. People now report incidents, and clean it up.

Hillman also cited an example from Bloomsburg, PA, where the Ku Klux Klan would gather on a regular basis. One woman set up a small lemonade stand ... and kept a stopwatch running. She asked people to donate a nickel, dime or dollar for every minute the KKK spent in town. Over $27,000 was raised, and donated to civic groups and educational programs. The KKK went elsewhere.

Hillman and Bo Keppel, another Unity Coalition official, said it is not hard to get something, including a Unity Coalition, going in the Milford area, and it doesn't need to highly structured. A key to success is for enough people to say they are willing to be a positive presence in an increasingly diverse community.

That's the message of Rosanne La Russo Kolberg, who has organized the response, locally, to some recent incidents, including anti-Semitic graffiti. The awareness effort has already generated proclamations from the Milford Borough Council and Pike County Commissioners. Kolberg says they are hoping for more, including outreach to local schools.

Kolberg Hillman Keppel

Kolberg, Hillman and Keppel (left to right)

Several students were in the crowd, and a Student Council officer from Delaware Valley High School said she was disappointed that not one administrator from the school district attended. The students acknowledged they do see incidents of hateful behavior in the schools. Keppel, an administrator at East Stroudsburg University, said adults often respond to incidents by saying "they're just kids". Keppel says that's all the more reason to be concerned and to mount a positive response.

Kolberg says the gathering was intended to be organizational. Another meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, October 18. Kolberg says the issue goes beyond just tolerance. They want respect for everyone, regardless of color, religion, lifestyle or whether you just moved here from urban New York City or New Jersey.

Original Post on Tri-State News Network, Inc. (News Editor: Paul Lester) - Reposted with Permission on the Tri-State Unity Coalition Site

Tri-State Unity Coalition
P.O. Box 752
Milford, PA 18337

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