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Our Position

Racial Incident in West Chester

To: Ann Becker, Trustee and Chair
Lee Wong, Trustee
Mark Welch, Trustee
Larry Burks, Township Administrator
Bruce Jones, Fiscal Officer

West Chester Township, Ohio

Honorable Trustees, Mr. Burks, and Mr. Jones:

We are writing to you about the incident of racism that occurred this week (11/20/20) at the home of Brian and Mia Harlan, 7737 Barret Road in West Chester. In a brash and threatening act, an anonymous hate letter was hand delivered to the Harlan’s home warning them to remove the Biden/Harris and Black Lives Matter signage on their property or face the consequences. The letter states, in part, “…this is West Chester, not Avondale, so keep your murderer types out of here… it was peaceful at one time, and if those (expletive) signs aint’ (sic) gone you are gonna be.”

View the Hate Letter

This is simply not the West Chester we know and love. We know this community as a diverse, progressive and welcoming suburb. As proud residents of West Chester, we also represent the Cincinnati Regional Coalition Against Hate, and EquaSion, a non-partisan civic organization founded upon interfaith dialogue that fosters greater understanding and respect for all people in our region. On their behalf, we have reached out to support the Harlans.

We know that West Chester Police immediately responded and are investigating this hate incident. While the Harlans have expressed their gratitude to the police, they have conveyed their understandable feelings of fear and stress from this terrible incident. No one should be made to feel fear in their homes or unwelcome in their community.

We respectfully ask you, our Trustees, to stand up and speak out. We believe it would be most meaningful for this victimized family – and this community – to be reassured by our public leadership that hate behavior is not only uncharacteristic of West Chester, but altogether unwelcome. Your involvement and exercise of leadership in this matter would send a strong message to those who would promote hate in our community.

We share the belief that one can only remove evil with good and can only remove hate with love. Let us be accountable to and for one another, and let us become more engaged in working together for the dignity and well-being of all of our neighbors. In short, let us come together as a caring community should!

We welcome your response. If there is anything EquaSion can do to assist you, please let us know. Thank you for your attention to this critical issue.

Sincerely,

Jaipal Singh & Aasees Kaur
6425 Gem Stone Dr,
Liberty Township, 45044

Jan Armstong Cobb & Barry Cobb
9881 Bolingbroke Drive
West Chester 45241

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Newsletters

October 2020 Newsletter

Categories
Our Position

Voter Intimidation Incident

EquaSion response to voter intimidation incident, Hamilton County Board of Elections

TO: Gwen McFarlin, Chair; Alex M. Triantafilou, Board Member; Caleb Faux, Board Member; Charles H. Gerhardt III, Board Member; Sherry L. Poland, Director of Elections; Hamilton County Board of Elections

The reports of voter intimidation by those exercising their right of free speech are beyond concerning—they are disturbing. For Board of Elections officials to say they “are reviewing (measures being taken to ensure voters are not harassed)” speaks perhaps to the absence of a plan or a lack of training of poll workers and poll observers to identify, intervene, and diffuse situations that interfere with any voter, per Ohio law.

EquaSion stands with the Cincinnati NAACP, the Cincinnati Regional Coalition Against Hate, and others condemning any and all evidence of voter harassment during this election cycle.

Right now: EquaSion will step forward immediately to offer clergy monitors to serve as a calming force at the polls on Election Day, Nov. 3. Further, members of our multi-faith organization will answer the call for in-person orientation of poll workers and poll observers to prepare them to constructively intervene in potential acts of voter intimidation. Thank you.

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Newsletters

September 2020 Newsletter

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August 2020 Newsletter

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July 2020 Newsletter

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June 2020 Newsletter

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Our Position

Killing of George Floyd

Statement from Cincinnati’s Interfaith Community on the Killing of George Floyd

We, the undersigned members of more than 30 faith communities representing 13 world religions, stand united in denouncing the unconscionable killing of George Floyd by officers of the Minneapolis Police Department and the on-going systemic racism that corrupts justice in our country. Our prayers go out to the family of Mr. Floyd and to Minneapolis city officials our plea is that they bring the one officer to justice and continue to investigate the legal culpability of the others. While we affirm the right of protest and resonate with the public’s outcry, we deplore violence and vandalism as means of expression.

Too many African American men and women have lost their lives due to police brutality. The persistence of this injustice in spite of numerous police reforms reveals that we have much work yet to do to root out the institutional racism deeply ingrained in not only the law enforcement establishment but in all areas of society.

Our community of Cincinnati has had its own history of police mistreatment of African Americans, but to its credit the Cincinnati Police Department has owned its accountability and adopted practices and policies to lessen the potential for the use of excessive force. Prompted by civil unrest in the aftermath of a 2001 police shooting and a subsequent lawsuit that resulted in the historic Collaborative Agreement, CPD’s police-community reforms have become the model for other communities. Yet, we, too, must remain ever vigilant.

We need to stop paying lip service and honestly address the societal problems caused by our racial inequities, evidenced recently by the disparities in the infection rate of COVID-19. We must commit ourselves to eradicating systemic inequities and doing more to close the social distance gap that still exists between our racial, religious and ethnic groups. Our community’s minorities continue to be victimized by bigotry and hate.

All of our religious traditions, without exception, have tenets that call for their believers to behave toward their fellow human beings with compassion, respect and justice, and to treat every person with dignity. Accordingly, our religious convictions require us to speak out against injustice whenever and wherever it occurs. We have done so before; we do so now; and we will continue to do so.

As spiritual leaders, we share the belief that one can only remove evil with good and can only remove hate with love. We, therefore, call upon all persons of goodwill to a greater degree of personal accountability and engagement. Let us be accountable to and for one another, and let us become more engaged in working together for the dignity and well-being of all of our neighbors. In short, let us come together as a caring community should!

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Our Position

Anti-Semitic Graffiti

EquaSion Statement on the anti-Semitic graffiti incident in the Madisonville-Oakley area of Cincinnati

EquaSion, a civic organization informed by interfaith dialogue and which embraces 30 faith communities and 13 world religions, condemns in the strongest possible way this despicable act of religious bigotry perpetrated against our Jewish neighbors; and we stand in solidarity with them at this time.

Our community is better than this. We are a community of compassion and we value and safeguard all faith communities for their cultural, civic and spiritual contributions to our quality of life. Our Jewish community warrants our full support as they sadly experience, yet again, a gross act of antisemitism.

Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

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Our Position

Gun Violence

Calling upon lawmakers to take action in response to upsurge in Gun Violence

TO: Federal, state and law elected officials in Southwest Ohio

We, the undersigned faith organizations, communities and individuals from across the Cincinnati region are strongly united in calling for immediate action to address gun violence in America. Collectively, we represent 30 faith traditions including 13 world religions, but across our differences, we share a belief in God and in the sanctity of life. And as people of faith, we feel a moral imperative to speak up in the wake of the most recent horrific shootings in El Paso and in our neighboring community of Dayton—where one individual, armed with a military grade weapon, killed nine people and injured twenty-seven others in just 30 seconds.

We are heartbroken, but we are no longer shocked. The shootings this past weekend are not anomalies or isolated tragedies. We have watched in horror as gun violence has invaded our churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples. Just this year, 131 people have died in 23 mass killings. By comparison, 140 people died in mass killings in all of 2018, including seventeen innocent children who were murdered in their school in Parkland, Florida. In too recent memory, mass killings have occurred in Colorado (2012), Orlando (2016), Las Vegas (2017) and just last year here in Cincinnati, and in each of these years, there are tens of thousands more gun-related deaths that do not make national headlines.

We recognize and respect the right of law-abiding Americans to own handguns and rifles for legitimate purposes, but we refuse to accept a dystopian future where schools, houses of worship, community centers, shopping malls, theaters, and other venues require armed security, and where children and adults are fearful of going out in public. Along with enhanced security measures and investment in mental health treatment, common-sense gun safety reform is an imperative. We urge you to do everything within your power to prioritize this issue and to enact policy changes that would keep guns out of the hands of those who are most likely to use them for criminal activity, such as red flag laws, universal background checks, restrictions on gun ownership for domestic violence offenders, regulation of “strawman” purchases, and a ban on high-capacity magazines. Polls show that a vast majority of Americans support these actions.

Our faith communities have a deep and abiding concern for public safety. Driven by our belief in the sanctity of life and the commandment against murder, we are committed to a comprehensive approach to confronting gun violence. No single solution will prevent all future tragedies, which is why we advocate for a balanced, multipronged approach. Reasonable gun safety measures must be a piece of that approach.

Our shared value of “compassion through action” instructs that prayer without action is just the recitation of words. The time for lawmakers to act is now.

As the residents of Dayton, Ohio said at their recent vigil, “DO SOMETHING!” Thank you.

Respectfully,

Inayat K. Malik
Board Chair
Bridges of Faith Trialogue

Robert C. “Chip” Harrod
Executive Director

(Signed by more than 100 faith leaders.)