- June 14, 2021
Here we are on the heels of another attack on our Jewish community. Just in recent memory, we’ve seen horrible graffiti defacing our places of worship, attention-craving Holocaust deniers parading around our farmers market, and most recently, out-of-town anti-Semites leaving despicable leaflets in our residential neighborhoods attempting to stoke hate and intimidate our Jewish friends and neighbors.
To be clear, this is not who we are. We are not intimidated. And in the strongest possible terms we reject these sentiments in their entirety and stand in solidarity with our Jewish community against these cowardly acts of prejudice.
In my view, the core of public and community service is the responsibility to ensure everyone regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, or religion feels welcome, safe, and appreciated in our community. Why? Because those are simply attributes of the public we serve and make-up of the community in which we live.
However, we must do more than simply assume we are welcoming and inclusive. We must show it to offset these seldom but deeply disturbing instances of hate with overwhelming displays of compassion, tolerance, and acceptance. We are a better community and country because of our diversity, and we value all walks of life here in Sarasota.
Most of us would like to believe we are past intolerance. I wish we were. But the reality is we are not. This is why we march and demonstrate. This is why we call out not just the overt but also the covert attempts to single out, fear monger, scapegoat, and divide. This is why we must counter these instances of hate with gestures of support.
Last summer we lit the Ringling bridge to symbolize our acceptance and appreciation for our LGBTQ community. For similar reasons last year, we attempted to light eight pillars of the same bridge celebrating each night of Hannukah. Even with broad support from our Jewish leaders that request was rejected by our regional transportation secretary. I can tell you symbolism is important and in consideration of recent events we cannot fail again this year.
We must unequivocally and publicly stand together against these heinous acts and do what we can to show our support for the diverse membership of our community. Join us at 1 p.m. Sunday at Bayfront Park to rally in solidarity with our Jewish community where with one voice we will condemn hate and intolerance and celebrate Sarasota in all of its splendor.
Hagen Brody is a Sarasota city commissioner and former mayor of the city.