11/13 Medford Transcript: Human Rights Commission removes ADL signs across city

Human Rights Commission removes ADL signs across city

By Sharon Tosto Esker/medford@cnc.com

Tue Nov 13, 2007, 06:57 PM EST

Medford - With a turn of a wrench, Medford’s affiliation with the Anti-Defamation League ended last week when the Human Rights Commission ceremonially removed the “No Place for Hate” street sign on Forest Street.

“We’re saddened that we’ve had to suspend our membership to the ADL, but we’re hopeful that the organization will take its place nationally in its fight against hate by recognizing the Armenian genocide,” said David Harris, chairman of the commission.

Upon the recommendation of the HRC, the City Council voted last week to suspend the city’s membership to the Anti-Defamation League’s “No Place for Hate” program. The decision was a result of the ADL’s failure to support national recognition of the Armenian genocide in which more than 1.5 million Armenians were killed in Turkey at the end of the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1917.

“We feel a commitment to all of our citizens and residents of Medford,” said Harris. “We owe it to the Armenian population to protect them and recognize them too.”

Six members of the HRC, including Diane McLeod, executive director of the Office of Human Diversity, and City Councilor Robert Penta convened at one of the city’s “No Place for Hate” signs near Roosevelt Circle the morning after the municipal election.

Harris reached up to the sign and gently turned the two bolts holding it to the grey metal light pole. The sign was down in less than five minutes.

“I think that it’s an appropriate action to take,” said Lois Bronnenkant, a member of the HRC. “Over the last few months we’ve had several Armenians, young and old, who have told us stories of how the Armenian genocide has affected their families. We’ve had a good relationship with the ADL in the past, but we don’t approve of the way they’ve handled the Armenian genocide issue.”

On Nov. 2, the ADL once again took a hard line in defending its position on recognizing the Armenian genocide. The organization released a statement indicating that it would not take any further action in recognizing the genocide.

The city plans to re-evaluate its relationship with the ADL in three months to consider whether Medford will extend the membership suspension or withdraw completely.

“No Place for Hate was a great program,” said Penta. “The intent behind it is great. Nobody wants hate in their community. The principles behind No Place for Hate will go on in Medford though.”

Source: http://www.wickedlocal.com/medford/homepage/x1855990610