2008-10-30 Holland Sentinel "Hate crimes the topic of discussion at forum"

Hate crimes the topic of discussion at forum
The Holland Sentinel

Holland, MI —

Hate crimes run a continuum — from words and bullying to destruction of property and violence.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever known any minority person who hasn’t dealt with hate,” Latin Americans United for Progress Executive Director Roberto Jara said.

A forum Thursday night, Oct. 30, addressed some of the issues in the Holland area. Several area diversity groups sponsored the event at Cross Roads Church, 267 Lincoln Ave.

In the 1960s, a cross was burned on the lawn of Lisa James’ grandparents. In 1996, one was burned on hers in Grand Haven.

The community rallied around Lisa and her husband, the Rev. Ron James.

Although some hold extreme views of race, James said he does not believe that is the majority.

“I don’t believe that’s the prevailing mindset throughout the community,” he said. “I believe the prevailing mindset is to include everyone, but not really knowing how to do that.”

When Avelock and Darla Robinson moved from Jamaica to Park Township, they had heard of racism in America, but didn’t think it would come to the N-word being spray painted on their driveway.

“It was nothing like the morning when my son woke me up: ‘Mommy, Mommy something terrible has happened,’” Darla Robinson said. “’Mommy, they’re going to burn crosses. They’re going to kill us.’”

The community rallied around the Robinsons, too, with an anti-racism community pledge more than 3,000 strong.

“I think the one thing you can do is speak up on behalf of others,” Jara said.

Comments from Holland Sentinel's website. [link]

"This was such a great forum! Racism is so alive in this community and it is wonderful to see all different types of people get together and unite to fight this fight!"