A group of minority residents has called on city leaders to crack down on hate crimes.
The Rev. E.J. Moss of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church urged authorities this week “to take a stand against any and all hate crimes that are perpetuated in the city of Bristol.”
Surrounded by 10 black and women from the community, former Bristol NAACP leader Monica Ervin told city councilors this week there should be a public forum so minority residents “can voice our concerns.”
Mayor Art Ward said his door is always open and he’s more than willing to talk to people who are concerned about hate crimes.
Police Chief John DiVenere said that he doesn’t know of any hate crimes occurring in the city for years.
But Ervin cited the “constant desecration” of buildings around town with offensive words as a growing and significant problem that officials need to act on.
She said that it is “disturbing” that city leaders reacted with such outrage to the vandalism of a Memorial Boulevard statue while remaining mum about “the constant vandalism” that violates the civil rights of many in the community.’
Moss said that any hate crime “is a crime against every citizen” and should be taken seriously.
He said there have been many incidents around the state in recent months.
Moss pointed to the racism complaints lodged against the police in 2006 as examples of the problems in Bristol, complaints that the police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated but took no action.
Moss said the law enforcers “march to the drumbeat of a different drummer” when it comes to taking hate crimes seriously.
He said there is “a slippery slope” trend by the police and the city government toward accepting hate crimes that “inevitably leads to the continuation and perpetration” of them.
Moss said that the mayor, police chief, fire chief and others need “to do what is right and not that which is expedient” to prevent hate crimes from occurring in Bristol.
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