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"Not In Our Town" Film Showing & Panel Discussion

When Oct 15, 2009
from 07:00 PM to 09:00 PM
Where Decorah Public Library
Contact Name
Contact Phone 563-382-3717
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A free viewing of the inspiring documentary films, Not In Our Town: I and II will be held at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, October 15 at the Decorah Public Library Mezzanine followed by discussion with representatives of the Decorah Human Rights Commission, the Decorah Police Department, Luther College Diversity Center and Decorah Area Faith Coalition, co-sponsors of the event.


Not in Our Town I is about the residents of Billings, Montana who responded to an upsurge in hate violence by standing together for a hate-free community. In l993, hate activities in Billings reached a crescendo with the distribution of KKK fliers, desecration of a Jewish cemetery, and vandalism of a Native American family's home, among other incidents. Rather than resigning itself to the growing climate of fear and intimidation, the community took a stand by coordinating an effective response to each incident and by making the unmistakable declaration: "Not in Our Town."


Not in Our Town II travels to communities inspired by the story of Billings to act against hate and intolerance. From Bloomington, Illinois, to Medford Oregon and Novato, California, the film depicts how communities across the nation have created positive solutions to hate acts.


In the fall of 2008, several incidents of prejudice and intolerance on and near the Luther College campus prompted a call to action by college officials for the city of Decorah and its Human Rights Commission to help mobilize a public response to such incidents. In a listening session, students shared a variety of experiences on campus and in the community that had made them feel uncomfortable, unwelcomed, unaccepted and unsafe. College President Richard Torgerson and Sheila Radford-Hill, the college's Diversity Center director, issued a joint statement admonishing the people responsible for the harassing and harmful conduct and asserted, “Enough is enough.”


Over the past year the Decorah Human Rights Commission has developed a written, coordinated community response policy and procedure for incidents of hate, including hate crimes. Entitled From Hatred to Healing, the document is currently being reviewed by city officials. The city council is expected to vote on the policy this month.


"Acts of hate and hate crime are an assault on our community's values and undermine our quality of life," said a public statement issued by the commission last year. "[Such acts] erode our sense of security and create an unwelcoming and hostile environment for people and groups of people who are targeted. The citizens of Decorah will not tolerate such acts." Decorah stands with Billings and all the other communities across the nation who have proclaimed, "Not in Our Town."