Not In Our Town

Not In Our Town extends support to those with developmental disabilities

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Not In Our Town heard last week that its members need to stand up with another population facing some discrimination in Bowling Green. During their monthly meeting, Not In Our Town members talked about the need to branch out and go beyond defending diversity in race, religion and sexual orientation. NIOT also needs to stand up in the community for people with different intellectual and developmental disabilities, members agreed. Emily Dunipace, from the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities, talked about the need for people with differing intellectual abilities to be treated without discrimination in the community. “They want to be included like anyone else,” Dunipace said. Last month, after Wood Lane announced plans to open a group home for children with developmental disabilities, they were confronted by some neighbors who had concerns about the group home. It’s disappointing that people think that way,” said Heather Sayler, a NIOT member whose oldest son uses some services from Wood Lane. Rev. Gary Saunders, who lives in the general neighborhood of the new Wood Lane group home, said he was disappointed to hear about reluctance of neighbors to welcome the new residents. Julie Broadwell, community co-chair of Not In Our Town, agreed that the organization is dedicated to defending all populations facing discrimination – including intellectual and developmental disabilities. “That’s a whole issue we haven’t tapped into,” she said. The organization discussed the possibility of hosting a forum on the inappropriate use of the…


BG Peace Marchers make statement with their feet

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nearly 125 people bundled up to join the annual Peace March on Friday from downtown Bowling Green to Bowling Green State University. Among them was Holli Gray-Luring, who was pushing her 3-year-old son, Ian, in a stroller. “It just feels good to be a part of something so positive,” said Gray-Luring, who also participated in the Peace March last year. “The people who stand here are aligned with our thoughts and beliefs in the world.” The second annual Peace March was again organized by Not In Our Town Bowling Green – a group dedicated to accepting diversity and speaking out against hatred. “It is an opportunity to be very visible on the streets of Bowling Green,” said Julie Broadwell, the community co-chair of Not In Our Town. The march makes a statement that all people are “welcome and included in Bowling Green life.” The walk started downtown in the free speech area off East Wooster Street. Led by a group holding the Not In Our Town banner, the walkers stayed on the sidewalks as they headed east to the BGSU campus. Most walked, some used wheelchairs. Joining in were BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey, several university officials and students. On the city side, were Mayor Dick Edwards, several City Council members and city residents. The walk ended in front of the student union, in the free speech zone on campus. “I think the peace march is something so special,” said Alex Solis,…


Not In Our Town hears of community policing updates

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   In response to national issues of improper community policing, Ohio developed standards for its police departments. The first two standards were to be met by March 31, 2017. Both Bowing Green and Bowling Green State University police divisions met those standards of training on use of force, and on complying with proper recruiting, hiring and screening processes. “Standards are a good thing,” Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick said during a recent Not In Our Town meeting when the policing standards were discussed. “There are a lot of small agencies that don’t even have policies,” and some large agencies that don’t follow the policies they have, the chief said. Of the police departments in Ohio, nearly 80 percent are in the process of meeting the state standards. There are a total of 14 policies set by the state – with three to be met each year from here on. The three to be achieved this year involve community engagement, dispatch training and body cameras. Both the city and campus police engage the community during “Coffee with Cops” events. Hetrick said police department are not mandated to have body cameras. Bowling Green’s division recently updated its in-car cameras, but doesn’t have the funding for body cameras, he added. “It’s something I’m open to. I think they are a good thing,” the chief said. But in addition to the camera expenses, there are also costs for data storage and privacy policies that some police…


Microaggressions – small cuts leaving big wounds

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Microaggressions are like mosquito bites. One is an annoyance. But a constant swarm leaves a person feeling angry or helpless. Microaggressions are the subtle verbal and nonverbal slights, insults, indignities and denigrating messages that are inflicted on people of any marginalized group. It’s when a person of Asian heritage who was born in the U.S. is praised for speaking English so well. It’s when men at a workplace meeting ignore the women trying to offer input. It’s when a white woman clutches her purse when a black man approaches. It’s the flying of a Confederate flag. Many times the comments or actions come from well-intentioned people who are unaware of their hidden messages. Social injustice and oppression have occurred since the beginning of time, explained Dr. Krishna Han, assistant director of the BGSU Office of Multicultural Affairs, during a program on microaggressions Thursday evening organized by Not In Our Town Bowling Green. But through most of history, smaller acts of social justice were not addressed. However, now that society is aware of the impact of microaggressions, the question is “Now what?” Han asked. There is now a sense of responsibility on people to recognize their hurtful words or acts, and to not just stand by when others are wronged. Many of those attending the program last week had experienced microaggressions themselves. Sheila Brown relayed the story of being told, “Oh my gosh, you’re so articulate,” as if that was shocking for a…


Not In Our Town mulls how to deal with micro aggressions

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Not In Our Town has proven that it can organize large gatherings to confront local or nation injustices. Now the organization is trying to figure out how to respond to smaller issues – like micro aggressions that occur in the community. A micro aggression is a statement or action of indirect, subtle or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority.  While significant to those involved, they don’t rise to the level of organizing a rally in defense. When NIOT receives reports of micro aggressions occurring in Bowling Green, the members want to respond. One of the most recent incidents occurred in a local grocery store, when a customer reportedly used a racial slur to a BGSU student. Last week, NIOT members talked about how it can best respond to these types of “hate language” incidents. “Some things take person to person contact,” said Rev. Gary Saunders, co-chair of NIOT. Mark Hain, a theater and film professor at BGSU, talked about fear and depression expressed by his students since the presidential election. “I feel that as well,” Hain said. “I don’t want the town I live in to be the place where students are afraid to leave their dorm rooms,” Hain said. So he attended the NIOT meeting in hopes of finding some solutions. “I feel a lot of hope with younger people, and I don’t want to see that crushed,” Hain said. During a…


Attack, hate speech reported after election ‘whitelash’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After a long election season laden with hate speech, the results of Tuesday’s vote have left many populations feeling vulnerable and targeted. On Thursday, a BGSU student reported on Facebook that as she volunteered to collect election signs from yards on Crim Street, she was physically attacked and called racial slurs by men shouting they were “making America great again.” Bowling Green police are investigating the incident. On Wednesday evening, as a peaceful rally was held in the green space in downtown Bowling Green for those troubled by the election, Krishna Han said three teenage boys walked by yelling, “Black lives do not matter.” On Tuesday evening, a BGSU student from Tunisia explained during a city-university relations commission meeting, that international students are reporting threatening incidents to her, and worry about the climate created by the election. After years of inching toward inclusion, President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign “whitelash” is being blamed for legitimizing hatred toward many populations – Latinos, African Americans, the LGBTQ community, Muslims, women and more. “It was a pretty traumatic day,” BGSU student Allie Dyer said Thursday during a Not In Our Town meeting. “We are in very real danger now. We have to watch our backs now.” In response to the student reporting the attack on Crim Street, BGSU Vice President for Student Affairs and Vice Provost Thomas Gibson released a statement to all students. “BGSU is committed to ensuring that we have a welcoming and safe climate…


Not In Our Town renews commitment against hatred

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It wasn’t that long ago when Bowling Green was faced with a decision – quietly ignore racist acts in the city, or face them head-on and declare those acts unwelcome in this community. The community chose the latter. They formed a Not In Our Town movement dedicated to fighting hatred and discrimination. They confronted racial graffiti that had been written on sidewalks, racist tweets that were made about university students, and a local man with ties to known hate groups who was arrested. Rather than bury their heads to the ugly acts, city and university leaders came together to face the hatred and show it would not be tolerated in Bowling Green. The effort took off, engaging more than 12 community organizations and collecting nearly 50,000 pledges from students and community members who understand that hate hurts the entire city and campus. “Out of something bad, came something good,” said BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey. On Thursday, those people came together again – this time to celebrate their success and recommit to their cause. This gathering was much different than the early meetings of the fledgling organization. Those were days of doubt and skepticism that community and campus leaders were serious about taking on blatant and covert racist. Now, nearly four years later, the celebration was festive, with cheers, cookies and congratulations. The event included statements read from students who helped start the movement – who are now out moving other communities…


Peace March rescheduled for Nov 17

Due to expected inclement weather, the NIOT Peace March scheduled for tomorrow, October 20, has been canceled. It will take place November 17. The reaffirmation celebration at Falcon’s Nest will still take place tomorrow. Due to the inclement weather predicted for tomorrow, the Not In Our Town Peace March has been rescheduled for Thurs., Nov. 17. (1 of 2) — BGSU (@bgsu) October 19, 2016


BG community gathers in the shadow of Orlando killings

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The people at Pulse, the gay club in Orlando, were there early Sunday morning to have a good time in a space where they felt safe. Then a gunman intruded into the party, killing 49, wounding 53, several gravely. On Wednesday evening more than 300 people gathered at the First Presbyterian Church to remember the victims. The names of the dead were displayed around the community room, and then when the gathering moved outside for lighting of candles, all 49 names were read aloud. “Tonight we are gathered in the ashes of a horrific event in Orlando,” said the Rev Gary Saunders, co-pastor of First Presbyterian. He said that he had talked to “a dear friend, a gay man, who said ‘I won’t be there. I’m too afraid of being part of group like this that will be, by definition, a target.’ So sad, but understandable.” Among those in attendance was Imam Talal Eide, of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, he decried the “heinous” crime, and said that it was against the tenets of Islam. “The bloody slaughter of innocent people is … condemned.” God created all people with dignity and gave people “the freedom to choose our lives,” he said. As a human “I am responsible to build bridges of love between us rather than bridges of hatred.” The Rev. Lynn Kerr of the Maumee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation said it was “O.K. to afraid in the wake of the attack.” But…


Panel to address Islamophobia Tuesday

A panel discussion on Islamophobia will be held Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Wood County District Public Library Atrium in downtown Bowling Green. This is the second such panel sponsored by the Not In Our Town group. During the discussion, representatives from the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, Canton Response to Hate Crimes Coalition, BGSU and the Bowling Green community will address the term “Islamophobia” and the concerns facing Muslims in northwest Ohio and the United States. (See story on first panel at http://bgindependentmedia.org/2016/01/28/islamophobia-is-everyones-problem/) For more information, visit www.bgsu.edu/notinourtown


Islamophobia is everyone’s problem

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The shadow of ISIS and American politicians who exploit its atrocities hung over the panel on Islamophobia at Bowling Green State University Wednesday afternoon. The moderator Susana Pena, director of the School of Cultural and Critical Studies, started the discussion off by positing a definition: “Islamophobia is a hatred or fear of Muslims as well as those perceived to be Muslim and Muslim culture.” She told the more than 100 people in attendance that at its most extreme Islamophobia expresses itself in physical violence and hate crimes, such as the 2002 attack on the Islamic Center in Perrysburg. It also expresses itself in racial profiling and “micro-aggressions … every day intentional and unintentional snubs and insults,” Pena said. Cherrefe Kadri, a Toledo attorney, was on the board of the Islamic Center of Northwest Ohio when the arsonist attacked. The man convicted of the crime wrote a letter of apology. “It was a cathartic exercise,” Kadri said. “He thought we were happy he was imprisoned. I assured him we were not.” Kadri said she is disappointed in politicians such as Donald Trump and Ben Carson who “think it’s courageous speaking against people based on their religion.” And she’s disappointed in other political leaders, especially Republican leaders, who have not opposed their views. “It puts people in danger.” Saudi student Adnan Shareef, president and founder of the Muslim Students Association at BGSU, said he knows of some Muslims “afraid of affiliating themselves with anything Islam.” This…