An Open Letter from the Mayor of Ossining

Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” ~Dr. Maya Angelou

Ossining is still reacting to news of an incident that occurred yesterday at the high school where a swastika and the n-word were crudely scrawled on a bathroom wall. While the Ossining Police Department investigates, students, teachers, parents, and the whole community are asking, what can we do to prevent future acts of antisemitism and racism?

We pride ourselves on being an inclusive community that celebrates diversity. In many ways we are further along the path of equity and social justice than a generation ago, or than many other communities that do not have the benefit the rich diversity that defines Ossining.

Let us strip this act of its intention, and instead use it to strengthen our resolve to achieve a beloved community based on justice, equity, and love of our neighbors. Hate symbols are a call to violence and division. It is essential that we take seriously pencil marks on a wall, in order to prevent an escalation. Instead of allowing this incident to inspire greater acts of hate, let us acknowledge this incident as the latest call to action.

At this point we have no way of knowing the true motivation of the person who perpetrated this act. What we do know is that we have a deep bench of local leaders, organizations, and individuals who stand together.

Just hours before the incident at OHS was discovered, I spoke with local leaders about steps we can take as a whole community to prevent this kind of antisemitic and racist behavior. One step in the right direction would be for Albany to pass the Senate Bill #S6648 and Assembly Bill #A08545 which would require education about symbols of hate to be incorporated into public school curriculum. Both the Town and Village Boards have unanimously supported resolutions urging Albany legislators to pass the proposals.

Hate has no place here. The Town and Village are committed to working closely with local organizations to extend education and programming beyond school buildings and kitchen tables. Partnering with all willing groups and individuals is essential for attaining a truly beloved community.

With regards,

Victoria Gearity, Ossining Mayor

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