A new anti-hate proclamation was unanimously adopted by the Knox County board. The proclamation was proposed by many community groups in an effort to take a stand against hateful activity.
The proclamation calls on the citizens of Knox County to condemn any forms of prejudice, to respect diversity and to commit themselves to human rights.
David Amor, a former journalism professor and organizing member of the group Unite Against Hate, drafted the proclamation, which aims to make a preemptive statement that intolerance is not acceptable in the Galesburg community. Amor cites the rise in hate crimes nationally following the Trump 2016 presidential campaign as its main motivation.
“A number of city governments and county governments really wanted to go on record and say this is not something we are going to tolerate in our community,” Amor said. “The goal is to say publicly this is where we stand. We think the diversity in our community strengthens us and it is, frankly, good for the economy as well as for the culture.”
The groups involved in proposing the proclamation include United Against Hate, the NAACP, the City of Galesburg Community Relations Commission, which focuses on human rights issues in the city, and Safe Space, an organization that focuses on the LGBTQ community.
Chris King, the chair of Safe Space and the Galesburg Community Relations Commission, spoke at the meeting before the proclamation was adopted. King believes the statement will give voice to communities that are typically unheard.
“As a trans woman and a black woman, I felt it was important to take a stand for my trans sisters,” King said. “The fact is that we are lucky not to have experienced hate crimes. It’s not that it can’t happen, it’s that it hasn’t happened. That’s why we need this statement to say that this is unacceptable.”
Amor mentioned that Unite Against Hate and other groups also wanted to address the issues going on in local schools. Many parents spoke to these groups about their fears.
“There were sort of anecdotal stories about kids being taunted here in Galesburg,” Amor said. “There was also some sense that not all teachers were on board in terms of diversity sensitivity training.”
The groups plan on working with the school superintendent to address these concerns.
Amor also mentioned that the proclamation brought many of the concerns of different communities together.
“There was a sense that everyone’s issues were separate issues and we needed to communicate across groups in a form of solidarity,” Amor said.
Amor wants to make sure to expand the mission of his group to the concerns of the immigrant community in Knox County.
“One thing we haven’t really addressed directly is that there is an immigrant and refugee community here, many from the Congo and Central Africa,” Amor said. “It would be good to work with problems that that group might be having.”
The proclamation was adopted by the county board, but has yet to be implemented by Galesburg Mayor John Pritchard.