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Racist slurs mar Temple billboard; hundreds march for racial justice

  • A group of hundreds marched from Peterborough Elementary School to the Peterborough police station on Saturday to protest racial injustice. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The start of Saturday’s march from Peterborough Elementary School to the Peterborough police station. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • A group of hundreds marched from Peterborough Elementary School to the Peterborough police station on Saturday to protest racial injustice in the United States and call attention to the growing nationwide movement to reduce funding for police departments and reallocate the money to social services. (BEN CONANT / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Copyright Monadnock Ledger-Transcript. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to news@ledgertranscript.com. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • A group of hundreds marched from Peterborough Elementary School to the Peterborough police station on Saturday to protest racial injustice in the United States and call attention to the growing nationwide movement to reduce funding for police departments and reallocate the money to social services. (BEN CONANT / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Copyright Monadnock Ledger-Transcript. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to news@ledgertranscript.com. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • A group of hundreds marched from Peterborough Elementary School to the Peterborough police station on Saturday to protest racial injustice in the United States and call attention to the growing nationwide movement to reduce funding for police departments and reallocate the money to social services. (BEN CONANT / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Copyright Monadnock Ledger-Transcript. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to news@ledgertranscript.com. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/29/2020 4:31:48 PM

The fight against racism continued in the Monadnock region this weekend, as hundreds gathered and marched in Peterborough and Dublin and a small group cleaned up anti-Semitic, anti-Black graffiti found along Route 101 in Temple.

Graffiti was discovered and reported on Route 101 and on a billboard west of Old Revolutionary Road in Temple Friday morning, Temple-Greenville Police Chief James McTague said. The billboard, for a local business, was spraypainted with the words “White power,” a swastika, and an anti-Black slur, among other things; it was removed by Saturday afternoon, the Keene Sentinel reported. 

Temple community members took it upon themselves to remove the graffiti, including a racist slur and a swastika, from the Route 101 roadway Saturday afternoon. Typically, the Department of Transportation takes care of graffiti that’s “vulgar or so forth” right away when police notify them, McTague said, but state employees hadn’t yet arrived to remove it when the residents took action. An officer responded to the site as the group was finishing their cleanup because a motorist had reported that people were rerouting traffic on the highway with cones, he said.

The police have opened an investigation into the vandalism but had not made any arrests, he said, but it would be difficult considering there was little information on exactly when the graffiti was painted.

“This type of vandalism is a jarring reminder that hate and bigotry still exist in our community and we have learned that anti-Semitic words have a direct connection to tragic consequences,” Jewish Federation of New Hampshire Director of Outreach and Engagement Allyson Guertin said. “We at the Jewish Federation of New Hampshire are committed to building bridges and educating against anti-Semitism. Our hope is that Jews and non-Jews around our state will join us in condemning this hateful act. We ask you to reflect on the situation and think about what you can do in your own communities to bring people together and avoid things like this from happening in the future.”

“While I am saddened to know that some individuals felt the need to express their hate in this public way, I chose to focus on the good I have seen in our communities – especially during this difficult and unprecedented time,” Jaffrey resident and former Jewish Federation of New Hampshire executive director Melanie Zalman McDonald said. “I hope that the perpetrators of these acts will continue to have their “15 minutes of fame” drowned out by the outpouring of support that the people of our region continue to demonstrate towards fostering understanding within difference with both their words and actions.”

“For some time now, I have called the Monadnock Region my home. I still very much consider it a safe place where my family and I feel welcome –  even as a religious minority,” Zalman McDonald said. “New Hampshire is certainly not known for our diversity, but I’ve never seen a such a small and underrepresented community celebrate difference and speak out against injustice, racism, and hate the way we have at the foothills of Monadnock. This is why education is so important and why organizations such as the Cohen Center for Holocaust & Genocide Education and Jewish Federation of NH are working to mandate Holocaust & Genocide Education be taught in all NH schools. An attack on one of us, is an attack on all of us. This isn’t a political issue, it’s a human issue.”

In Peterborough, over 200 people gathered at Peterborough Elementary School and marched from PES to the police station, holding signs reading “Black Lives Matter,” “You Are Complicit,” and other anti-racist slogans. At the police station, a handful of speakers shared their experiences of racist encounters, fear of police brutality and the need for more mental health services in the region.

The local antiracist movement has continued steadily since the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25. On Saturday, hundreds gathered at the Concord state house for a Black Lives Matter rally; the BLM organization sent its list of seven policy demands – including implicit bias training for state officials, banning the use of rubber bullets and tear gas, legalizing marijuana and creating several state task forces or civilian boards to oversee the police and systemic racism – to the state’s three leading gubernatorial candidates over the weekend.

On Sunday, President Donald Trump tweeted, then deleted, a video of a Trump supporter raising a fist and chanting “White power!” during a protest at Floridian retirement community The Villages. “Thank you to the great people of The Villages,” his tweet read in part.


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