Community stands together against hate
To the Editor: The correspondence below was written on February 17, 2016, by a life-long West Chester resident, Ms. Alice Hammond, in response to a racist sign that was anonymously posted in a Borough park. At Alice’s request, we met with her and Mr. James Jennings, President of NAACP West Chester Chapter, in early March to discuss this act and how to respond beyond the investigation underway by the West Chester Police Department. Mayor Comitta believes Alice’s letter, below, expresses the outrage and dismay that is shared by her West Chester neighbors. Our community stands together against all forms of discrimination and hate. We are a strong, inclusive, diverse community. We thank Alice and every neighbor who speaks out against hate and promotes respect and equality for every person.
——— Letter by Alice Hammond: “This cannot be kept silent. We are always talking about the wonderful, perfect town, our great borough, our Historic West Chester. Let’s talk about that and the fact that this is February, “Black History Month,” a month where Americans are supposed to celebrate the contributions that African Americans havemade to help build this country to be the Great Nation that we are today. Even though African Americans are still contributing today, we are only supposed to get one month? And yet, right here in our great town, our Historic West Chester, PA, within our parks, is a park named after an African American man who contributed years of his life to his town and years of dedication to our finest, the West Chester Police force. He worked his way up to the top and became Chief of Police of West Chester. He earned the respect of not only his peers, but all who came in contact with him. And now his legacy has been violated ... “racism” is an ugly word!
A sign was placed in the John O. Greene Park this month, not sure when but does that matter? This sign has not only violated Chief John O. Greene’s legacy, but it has violated all of the residents of West Chester. This cannot be kept quiet. We cannot stand for this kind of behavior. We have to speak out loud to our great town and let all people know we are aware of this heinous sign, and we will not tolerate this criminal poison. This is a serious federal offense and will be treated as such.”
——— As stated by Scott L. Bohn, Chief of the West Chester Police Department, “The West Chester Police Department and the people of West Chester do not tolerate hate crimes or discrimination of any kind. We will hold accountable and will fully prosecute anyone engaged in these types of acts. In Pennsylvania, a hate crime is an act motivated by prejudice or bias. I have the utmost disdain for this behavior. In fact, disgust is what we felt when we saw it. Not only is it criminal but ignorant and unacceptable that anyone would sink to the use of that language and symbolism. It’s even more shocking in this community. It stands against the principles we value and the values of the man for whom the park was named.”
West Chester Mayor