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Foss Park Commissio

News Room

Commissioner Wyatt joins with fellow YEO Network members against Hate

Posted by Vance D. Wyatt on October 2, 2016 at 7:20 PM

The Letter reads as follows:

The 2016 electoral season has featured dangerous levels of xenophobic, anti-Muslim, and

racist rhetoric, as well as a devastating rise in hate crimes. This rhetoric and violence is not only

a threat to our communities, but it also strikes directly against the most cherished and basic

rights guaranteed by our nation’s Constitution: liberty, due process, freedom of religion, and

equality under law. We write this open letter to stand with the Muslims, Arabs, South Asians,

and Sikhs across the United States as they endure threats, harassment, violence, and

inexcusable political rhetoric. Our message is unmistakable: we thank you for serving your

communities and we are proud to have you beside us as full and equal members of the

American family.

American Muslims are an integral part of the fabric of America and have been since the first

slave ships brought Muslims to our shores. At the time of the founding of our nation, Thomas

Jefferson drafted the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1777 explicitly to protect the

rights of Muslims, Jews, and Christians to practice their faith free from oppression. Today,

American Muslims serve their communities and country as teachers and doctors, organizers

and soldiers, scientists and faith leaders. Indeed, America’s long tradition of welcoming

immigrants and people of all faiths has been central to our nation’s economic success, vibrant

democratic discourse, and cultural richness. Many of the most shameful periods of our nation’s

history were those in which we permitted hatred and fear of the “Other” to shape our public

policy. To build a more just and equitable America based on love and respect we must remind

ourselves of these histories and fight back against bigotry.

The recent sharp rise in hateful rhetoric directed at Muslims by political leaders has serious

consequences. Over the last year, there has been a shocking increase in harassment and hate

crimes directed at Muslims and those who are perceived to be Muslim. People wearing ethnic

or religious attire are being harassed; children bullied at school; community members

attacked; and mosques firebombed. The details are horrific: from the Pittsburgh taxi driver

who was shot in the back by his passenger on Thanksgiving to the pregnant San Diego woman

who was assaulted while pushing her child in a stroller. Children hear the threats of politicians

and ask their parents if their families will be rounded up; parents are heartbroken to hear their

children’s anxieties and worry for their safety. These attacks create fear and anxiety across

Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian communities, whose members now feel unsafe going

about their daily lives.

Today, the fear and hatred of Muslims is being promoted alongside xenophobia and racism

directed at communities all across our country: against Latinos who are being threatened with

mass deportation and ethnic cleansing; against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and particularly

transgender people who are being described as predators and targeted with violence and legal

discrimination; against African Americans and people of color around the country who are

suffering from discriminatory policing that is driven by fear and a failure to recognize their

basic humanity. It is the responsibility of all of us to stand against this hate.

It is exciting and heartening to see so many people doing just that. Young people – particularly

young people of color – are demanding an end to discriminatory policing and violence in their

communities. Muslim leaders are using the language and values of Islam to promote peace and

justice and service. Immigrants are engaging in civil disobedience to protest the deportation of

their friends and loved ones. Many of us are paying attention to these voices, opening to

them, and learning from them. But far too many others want nothing more than to silence

these voices and reject their humanity, embracing bigotry and hate instead of peace and


As elected officials from across the country and leaders in our communities, we stand against

hate crimes, against school bullying, against workplace discrimination, against closing our

borders on the basis of religion, and against hate. In standing with Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and

South Asian communities we are proud to join with US military veterans organizing under the

hashtag #VetsVsHate, faith leaders organizing under the hashtag #RootedInLove, and civil

rights leaders organizing under the hashtags #SolidarityIS and #EndHate.

As elected representatives, we say to those of you who are in the streets fighting for your lives

to matter, who hear yourselves described as murderers and rapists by candidates for the

nation’s highest offices, who fear for the safety of your children in your places of worship: We

are on your side. We see the richness and beauty of your lives and we know that America

cannot thrive unless you do. We vow to use our positions as elected leaders to stand up

against anti-Muslim bigotry, against xenophobia, against hatred, and against oppression.

We vow to promote local laws and policies that advance equity and value diversity. We vow never

to use fear as a political tactic and never to succumb to fear as political pressure. We vow to

work to fulfill the aspiration of our nation’s founding, in partnership with you, and against all

those who would demonize or silence you

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