Watertown Tab (Watertown, Massachusetts), May 10, 2007
When Ralph Filicchia came across a “No Place for Hate” sign on a pole outside Town Hall, he was, to put it in his own words “offended.”
On Tuesday, he came before the council with a message and a plea to take down the sign and rescind a Town Council proclamation honoring Watertown as a “No Place for Hate” community.
“The proclamation is discriminatory and a violation and infringement upon my civil rights as an American citizen,” he said. “I want the right to speak out without being guilty of a hate crime.”
Within 30 days he wants the sign gone, and the proclamation taken back.
But Will Twombly, a co-chairman of the committee with Watertown Police Sgt. David Sampson, sees it in a completely different light.
In 1999, the “No Place for Hate” program was created by the Anti-Defamation League New England Region, in partnership with the Massachusetts Municipal Association, to “provide communities with a solid framework for promoting an inclusive environment while fighting all forms of hate and bigotry,” according to their Web site.
Filicchia is no stranger to speaking his mind. He is a regular contributor to the letters page of the TAB & Press and other area news sources.
Adopted unanimously by the Town Council in 2005, the proclamation commits the town to the criteria to be a “No Place for Hate” municipality, with a “zero-tolerance” policy toward bigotry, along with the completion of three activities to be eligible for certification.
No word yet on what action, if any, the town will take on his request.
‘No Place’ for a proclamation?
The Town Council voted unanimously in 2005 to adopt the “No Place for Hate” resolution, which was supported by the police department, School Superintendent Dr. Steven Hiersche, representatives of local churches, the Watertown Food Pantry, The World in Watertown and the Watertown Commission on Disabilities.
“Whereas all acts of subtle or overt racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and ethnic bigotry substantially undermine our communities, schools and the promise of equal justice;
And whereas our nation was founded on the fundamental conviction that all persons are entitled to equal protection, equal opportunity and the enjoyment of civil rights;
And whereas the strength of our nation is derived from the growing diversity of our communities;
And whereas the Anti-Defamation League and the Massachusetts Municipal Association and other coalition members are sponsoring a program designed to help communities develop and take specific actions to combat bias and promote respect for people;
And whereas Watertown, Massachusetts, has committed to fulfill the criteria to become a “No Place for Hate” municipality;
And whereas we can work to solve the problem of hate and build bridges to communities only by taking strategic and specific actions to create a feeling of welcome inclusion.”