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Select Board, Police & Interfaith Council Denounce Anti-Female Flyer Containing Religious Slur

by Connie Sartini
Over the past several months Groton has been the target of two serious incidents of hate, exhibited by the swastikas and vulgar anti-police scrawling’s left atop Gibbet Hill at the Fire Tower, and this past week by an anti-female flyer using a religious slur that was left at a local retail establishment.
     Speaking as a Groton Selectman and individual, Josh Degen addressed the issue with a prepared statement that he encouraged his fellow Board members to adopt. “We as Chief Executives need to address this... This is no place for hate.”
     Text of Degen’s Statement:
     “Citizens of Groton and All Americans: Yesterday the Select Board was informed of another hate related incident that occurred within our town. A note was found a local retail store. The note stated,'The Muslims are right about women.' Back in August the State-owned fire tower atop Gibbet  Hill was vandalized and covered with hate inspired graffiti.
     "Derogatory statements about police and swastikas were spray painted within the structure. This type of behavior is completely disgusting and cannot be tolerated here in Groton or elsewhere. The individuals that perpetrated these hate inspired incidents should be called out then brought to justice. This spineless rhetoric is pathetic and seemingly is becoming a daily occurrence around our nation.
     "Groton has signs at its borders that state “All are Welcome”. Why do some people feel entitled to make us feel otherwise? I suppose that they forgot that the United States was created as a haven for those oppressed in other countries. Virtually every inhabitant other than the Native    Americans are the descendants of those who came to our great nation as immigrants hoping for a better life.
     "It is time to be upstanders and not bystanders to this type of behavior. I abhor the National political climate for making this type of behavior seem normal. This is far from normal and not acceptable from those in national leadership positions. National bigoted rhetoric is enabling the ignorant to lash out through actions that are truly un- American.
     "Many millions of people in the past have been killed when the populous silently stood by rather than to stand up against hateful behavior. The longer people stand idly by the easier it is to make hateful actions seem the norm.
     "We cannot allow hate to be tolerated here in Groton Wake up citizens stop swallowing the pill as it is poison to you and the rest of us who must all live together.
     "Please be respectful of differing cultures and care about your neighbors. Stand up to this intolerance. If you see something that you think is inappropriate call the police. If you hear something said that is bigoted please have the courage to say that is wrong and please don’t say that again. Without taking even the smallest action then you are complicit too. Something is stinking rotten in Groton right now. Everything surely is not all right here with the national political situation definitely at the lowest, nastiest level that I can remember in my lifetime.
     "But alas, citizens, I have faith in each of you. We are better than that. You and only you have the ability to make it right again.
     "I expect a lot more from each and every person here in Groton and throughout the United States of America.”
     All members of the Select Board were in full support of Degen’s statement.
     Member Becky Pine stated, “We can’t turn away from hate. We are diverse in cultures and creeds. Hate crimes are against the law.” She pointed to the work of the Interfaith Counsel and the Civil Discourse Project spear- headed by Anna Eliot that shows commitment to address these issues.
     Select Board member John Reilly said he felt this was a “despicable act. This is our home” and urged residents to pay attention. “If you see something, say something and contact the Police.” Chairman Alison Manugian agreed.
     Colleague John Giger also agreed. “I hate to see this happen. There is no place for this. We need to all take care of one another. It will take the effort of everyone to get a handle on this and drive it out.”
     Members of the Groton Interfaith Counsel were present in support of Degen’s statement [See Letter to the Editor, Page Two]. Pastor Nena Radtke of the Christian Union Church stressed that the community needs to work together, and the culture needs to support efforts against hate.
Chief of Police Michael Luth told the Board, “This is not representative of our town. To the best of our ability we will investigate this. I hope people will not color our town with this.”
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