Community Forum Set in Response to ‘#White Lives Matter’ Flyers

Anne M. Amato, Connecticut Post, May 12, 2015

A community forum on racial issues is planned Sunday after flyers with the slogan–“#White Lives Matter”–were tossed onto local lawns and driveways last week.

The flyers’ slogan, an apparent response to the widely used social-media hashtag, #Black Lives Matter, prompted local officials and community activists to denounce the message.

The forum is planned for 4 p.m. Sunday at the Westport Library, Harold Bailey, the chairman of TEAM Westport, a group that tries to promote tolerance and diversity, said Tuesday afternoon.

He also said his group plans to issue a formal statement on the #White Lives Matter flyers, as well as a set of local initiatives, sometime this week.

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“I am deeply concerned and disappointed that statements like this have found their way to Westport homes,” First Selectman Jim Marpe said in a statement last Friday. “This kind of racial ugliness has no place anywhere, and certainly not in Westport.”

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Marpe asked TEAM Westport “to work with Interfaith Clergy, the Board of Education and the appropriate town agencies, to lead our community’s response to these outrageous statements and, more importantly, the behaviors and beliefs that underpin them.”

Bailey has been in meetings with the leaders of a number of organizations to prepare a “consolidated response” to the flyer distribution.

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“Black Lives Matter, he said, is “really a statement of a reminder that” some people feel “they are marginalized by society.”

Bailey said by turning the flyer’s message “completely on its head,” it could mean “you don’t matter” or “we matter more,” but added, “That’s not what this town stands for.”

He said TEAM Westport strives to incorporate diversity in all institutions in town. “We feel diversity is an attitude,” he said.

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