Anti-Hate Zone” by Amanda Hirsch

August 25, 2017; CityLab and Washington Post

City mayors across the country have been stepping into the vacuum of ethical political leadership in the U.S. by creating local solutions and linking with other mayors. Now, the U.S. Conference of Mayors is partnering with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to launch the Mayors’ Compact to Combat Hate, “a new initiative to fight extremism and bigotry and to promote the fundamental principles of justice and equality.”

Cities are at the front lines of white supremacist rallies. “The August 2017 events in Charlottesville showed that American cities need to take the lead on ending domestic extremism and violent bigotry,” the Compact’s website explains. To date, more than 270 mayors have signed the compact, promising to “make cities safer for all who live there.” They go on,

Mayors and their cities must continue to be a beacon for inclusion, tolerance, and respect for all. We will continue to create stronger cultures of kindness and compassion in our communities, and expect our federal and state partners to join us in this endeavor.

The pledge includes

  • Vigorously speaking out against all acts of hate
  • Insisting that bias-motivated violence be punished to the fullest extent of the law
  • Promoting law enforcement training on hate crimes and anti-bias education in schools
  • Encouraging community activities that celebrate cultural and ethnic diversity
  • Advocacy for aggressive enforcement of civil rights laws and strengthening of hate crimes laws

Member cities include Boston, Cambridge, Los Angeles, New York, Oakland, San Francisco, Washington DC, Birmingham, Chicago, Baltimore, Durham, Dallas, and Birmingham.

The mayors will leverage ADL’s expertise, including its renowned anti-hate grade school program and anti-bias training for law enforcement agencies. They say they will balance freedom of speech and other rights with public safety, while seeking to build inclusive cities.

ADL national director Jonathan Greenblatt said, “Times like this require both moral leadership and strong action…whether or not we are seeing that from the president.” Gresham’s Republican Mayor Shane Bemis said, in reference to President Trump’s response to Charlottesville blaming “both sides,” “We’re not suffering any moral confusion here at city hall.”—Cyndi Suarez