Not In Our Town

Not In Our Town digests concerns about area hunger

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Not In Our Town monthly meetings normally focus on standing up against hatred and discrimination. On Thursday, the members talked about standing up for those who are hungry. A recent survey showed that college campuses across the nation are seeing a great deal of “food insecurity.” “We should think of how we’re going to meet that need,” said Christy Lunceford, campus chair of the Not In Our Town Bowling Green organization. “I don’t think the initiatives are meeting the need right now.” While most of that hunger may be faced by students, faculty and staff members aren’t immune, Lunceford said. “We need to keep that on our radar,” she said. An open forum on hunger problems is being planned, she added. “If a student says, ‘I don’t have food for the weekend,’ what do we do,” Lunceford said. The problem reaches beyond college campuses, said Heather Sayler, a member of Not In Our Town. “Let’s be honest. That happens at our city schools.” Sometimes the barrier is not distance but attitudinal. Some BGSU students whose driver’s licenses don’t reflect their residency here in Bowling Green, are turned away for not having the right paperwork, said Katie Stygles, of NIOT. “Sometimes students are treated in negative ways,” Stygles said. “That’s setting up a barrier for students.” Sayler, who also volunteers with the food pantry at First United Methodist Church in Bowling Green, said she has heard similar concerns voiced by senior citizens about other pantry locations. Across Wood County, more people are turning to food pantries to help feed their families. Some food banks offer food once a month, others whenever needed. Some require proof of need, others ask for nothing. Sayler said there are many food programs available. Often the problem is a lack of awareness. So last year, people representing food pantries throughout Wood County gathered at the United Way office in Bowling Green to collect information on all the grassroots efforts to help the hungry. Information was recorded on how often food is available, how much food is given per person, and how families qualify at each operation. The details have been updated in the county’s “211” help telephone system, so when people call for help they are directed to the place most able to assist. A list of the food pantries in Wood County and the surrounding area can be found at:;;0;;N;0;0;Family%20Support%20and%20Parenting;Military%20Family%20Support;54;Food%20Pantries~ The website lists 18 sites in Wood County, plus gives details such as who qualifies, the type of documentation needed, the pantry location and hours, and how often someone can pick up food. In addition to bags of groceries, many of the sites offer such help as free meals, laundry and shower services, clothing, kitchenware, toiletries and baby items. Others provide car care, used furniture or community garden crops. Many of the operations are hosted by churches. Some are open multiple days a week, others once a month. In 2015, BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey signed the President’s Commitment to Food and Nutrition Security and charged the Center for Community and Civic Engagement to act as the convener for campus and community activities designed to address hunger and food insecurity issues in the region. Mazey supported the Presidents United to Solve Hunger movement, which acknowledges hunger,…

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 “R” (retard) word. Also during last week’s meeting, Not In Our Town members revisited concerns about the lack of student involvement in NIOT at Bowling Green State University. NIOT meetings rotate from locations on campus and in the downtown. During last week’s meeting on campus, no students attended. So NIOT members decided that since BGSU students aren’t coming to NIOT meetings, then NIOT will take its members to student groups. “If they aren’t showing up, we should go to their groups,” Sayler said. Holly Cipriani, a NIOT member and academic adviser at BGSU, said she would get a list of organizations that NIOT would like to hear from – like the Black Student Union, Latino Student Union, World Student Association, Indian Student Association and Muslim Student Association. Not In Our Town members want to know if those students feel welcome in the Bowling Green community. “I think there are a lot of stories that never get anywhere near us,” Saunders said. It was noted that a black student on campus recently reported that she often feels like “a raisin in white rice.” That is the “elephant in the room,” Saunders said. “We’re not really reaching out to students effectively.” The next NIOT meeting will be held Dec. 7, from 3 to 5 p.m., in the City Council chambers in the city administration building on North Church Street.

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, the campus co-chair of Not In Our Town. “There are no remarks. You just know why you’re here.” At the conclusion of the march, a Not In Our Town banner was stretched out on a table so walkers could add their signatures to the cause. Gaynelle Predmore, of Bowling Green, was one of those signing the banner. “It’s the right thing to do,” she said of participating in the Peace March. “We don’t want hate in our town,” Predmore said. BGSU student Tanner Gray-Duvall also didn’t want to miss the march. “I feel like it’s necessary. There are some really bad things going on in our country right now,” he said. “It’s a really great thing to see this here.” He was joined by fellow BGSU student Eli Smith. “This is like my home now and it’s good to see the diversity. Bowling Green is very welcoming and loving.”

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 departments are struggling to define. Hetrick said the in-car cameras have proved valuable in refuting false claims from suspects and in helping with disciplinary action against officers. To provide body cameras for patrol officers, Hetrick estimated it would cost about $1,000 each – so about $18,000 for just the hardware. Then there would be another $20,000 to $30,000 needed for data storage, the chief said. If the funds were available, the chief said he would like the police division to be equipped with the body cameras. Both Hetrick and BGSU Police Chief Mike Campbell were asked if their officers had received training in “implicit bias.” “Implicit bias was covered in community policing,” Campbell said. The training requirements have increased from just a couple hours, to 14 hours currently, and to be increased to 40 hours by 2020. “It’s definitely on everybody’s mind,” Campbell said of the training to reduce implicit bias. Also at the Not In Our Town meeting, member Julie Broadwell spoke about the services offered by the Cocoon for victims of domestic and sexual violence. Help is available 24/7 by calling the crisis hotline at the Link at 419-352-1545. Staff respond to the hospital, to police stations, to wherever the victims need in Wood County. “Our advocates respond to the scene,” Broadwell said. She also stressed that Cocoon staff are not mandated to report incidents. “Confidentially is big” for many victims, she said. NIOT members discussed the need to make BGSU student, faculty and staff more aware of the Cocoon services. On another topic, Rev. Gary Saunders mentioned that with the passage of a “welcoming community” resolution by the city of Bowling Green, efforts may now turn to asking Wood County officials to adopt a similar resolution.

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 woman of color. Rev. Mary Jane Saunders recalled when a parishioner at a previous church praised her sermon, then turned to Saunders’ husband and said, “You wrote that sermon for her, right?” Allie Dyer said when she is sitting in public areas at Bowling Green State University, some people avoid her. “White people will not sit next to me,” she said. Some people never have to deal with this. Others only occasionally. But for some, it’s a daily issue. “If you’re dealing with that on a daily basis, it wears you down,” Han said. Han talked about the value of self-reflection. “This is often committed by well-intentioned folks,” he said. Their comments or actions come from ignorance or a lack of exposure. “We have streams of prejudice that run through our society,” said Rev. Gary Saunders, community co-chair of NIOT. But some microaggressions are not rooted in innocent ignorance. Some come from phobia, self-righteousness, defensiveness, denial, ego and anger. Han talked about how even the earliest memories are recorded in our brains. People may not be conscious of it, but comments can be embedded from their parents about people who are gay, of a different race or religion, immigrants, have disabilities, or of a different gender or class. “Every message we experience” is buried in our brains, he said. As a child in Cambodia, Han was told that gay men were pedophiles or mentally ill. There is no word in the Cambodian language for “gay.” He was also led to believe that lighter skin was a sign of true beauty. He said all lotions in Cambodia have skin whitening ingredients, and his sister avoided any sunlight before her wedding so her skin would be lighter. Those messages can take a toll when they become microaggressions toward others. Frequent targets often…

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 panel discussion recently at BGSU, an African-American student was asked about his experiences in the community. While he characterized the community as great, he added that “awful” moments do occur, such as when he is called the “N” word. “I don’t experience those things, so it’s good for me to hear that,” Bowling Green City Council member Bruce Jeffers said. “It’s good for all of us to hear that,” NIOT member Julie Broadwell said. She mentioned the recent rally against Donald Trump’s “travel ban” that NIOT helped pull together in less than 24 hours. More than 250 attended. “That really showed that we are listening to what they are saying.” “If we didn’t have the culture that some of these things happen, we wouldn’t need to be here,” Saunders said. Members of NIOT decided that information should be added to the organization’s website about how to contact NIOT if an incident of micro aggression occurs. Linda Landers talked about plans to offer an educational series on reducing prejudice. One of the workshops could discuss bystander training for how people can handle hate speech or actions by others. Bowling Green Police Major Justin White also said a YouTube video could be created for bystander training on handling micro aggressions. Also at the Not In Our Town monthly meeting, Saunders said efforts are being made to have the city of Bowling Green identify itself as a “welcoming community.” That term means the city would officially state its belief that incoming immigrants are seen as a positive opportunity for the business and civic community. “We know immigrants coming in can benefit the community,” Saunders said, especially in cases where there are challenges in the labor force. Toledo and Dayton are also considering becoming “welcoming communities, he said. “We’ve had immigrants in Bowling Green…

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 for all members of our community. We believe in the value of respecting one another, promoting diversity and being inclusive in making Bowling Green State University a place we can all be proud of and where our community members can thrive,” Gibson wrote. Gibson encouraged students to report incidents in person, online or by phone. He also urged that students attend a town hall meeting on Monday, at 6 p.m., in 101 Olscamp Hall, on the “Impact of the Election and Respect within Our Community.” Bowling Green City Schools are also keeping an eye out for any increased bullying or discriminatory behavior that are being reported elsewhere in the nation. High School Principal Jeff Dever said there have been a couple cases of individual students arguing about the presidential election, but no spike in bullying behavior. But BG Superintendent Francis Scruci said he does have some concerns about the lack of civility spurred by the election. “This election has taken the filter off,” he said. “The disappointing thing to me is that these feelings have existed, but this election has removed that filter.” That lack of tolerance has been evident in social media posts by adults, Scruci said. “I’m watching the adults exhibiting all the cyber bullying that we tell kids not to do.” The Not In Our Town organization members grappled with the fallout from the election as they met on Thursday.  Rev. Gary Saunders said that the election should not be viewed as a referendum against diversity and inclusion – but rather a choice between two candidates. But others saw the nation’s support of Donald Trump as something more cynical. “I truly think it was a statement of hate,” said Julie Broadwell. Some see Trump’s campaign as a forum allowing white people to openly say what they have…

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 to do the right thing. One graduate wrote that Not In Our Town changed her life. “I continue to fight for inclusion and diversity to this day,” she wrote. Amanda Dortch, president of the Undergraduate Student Government, said when she and other students graduate, they will take what they have learned with them. “To stand up against hate, against injustice,” she said. “That is what we learned here in Bowling Green. To make the world a better place.” But despite the successes, Bowling Green Not In Our Town members are well aware their work is not over. They got a reminder of that earlier this month when a racial slur was painted on the “spirit rock” near Kreischer Quad on the BGSU campus. Mayor Dick Edwards said Not In Our Town continues “stomping out hate in any, any form.” Despite the success of the organization – which includes national recognition for adding to the quality of life in Bowling Green –  the mayor warned that the work must continue. “We can’t rest on our laurels,” Edwards said. The campus and community leaders of Not In Our Town, Leslie Galan and Rev. Gary Saunders, talked about the group’s efforts to confront discrimination and hatred at all levels. The group has organized panel discussions on Islamophobia, talks with local law enforcement about police violence seen nationally, annual interfaith breakfast gatherings, and a vigil for victims of the Orlando nightclub shootings. “We have helped Bowling Green grieve,” Saunders said. “We have confronted local discrimination.” Not In Our Town has become an oasis of safety and inclusion by showing intolerance for discrimination based on race, gender, gender identity, ability, religion, class and other factors. The group is a city and campus partnership “supported by both and controlled by neither,” Saunders said. “It has emerged…

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 the people needed to make choices. “Let us choose love, and act on it, again and again and again.” Mayor Dick Edwards said the community needs “to embrace the basic tenet of the Not In Our Town movement to fight hate in any form and stand tall for individual liberty.” Bowling Green State University President Mary Ellen Mazey urged those present to act to address gun violence. “I don’t believe our forefathers, when they wrote the Second Amendment, intended for weapons of mass destruction to be used in schools and night clubs.” She said it was “incumbent” on those in the room to address this problem. Gwen Andrix, who along with Linda Tomajko and Amy Jo Holland, organized the event with the assistance of Not in Our Town Bowling Green, has been at the Four Corners every day since Sunday with a gay pride and transgender pride flags where she has at times been preached at and mocked. At the gathering, Andrix read a letter from a childhood friend, a gay man. It detailed the ways in which the LBGTQ community has been attacked since the 1969 Stonewall riot in New York City. The letter writer said he did not want the “prayers and moments of silence” from those who supported religious figures and politicians, including Donald Trump, who promoted hatred of gays. Nor does he want sympathy from “those who have turned the Orlando attack into a reason to hate all Muslims.” He said he wants people to vote against the politicians who support the more than 200 pieces of anti-gay legislation moving through state and federal legislatures. Instead, the letter concluded: “I want you to say more hatred will not stop hatred. More division will not bring us together and make us strong. I want you to say…

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 For more information, visit

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 is especially true of women who may forego wearing traditional head covering. “They are afraid of hate crimes,” he said. “They stop speaking out about their religion and themselves.” Pena said later in the program that it’s not just up to Muslims, or other members of “marginalized” communities. Putting the burden exclusively on Muslims or African-Americans or members of the LBGT community to explain their experiences also “can be an oppressive move.” “Some days you don’t have it in you,” Pena said. “The philosophy of Not In Our Town is not to put it on the marginalized community but that it’s everybody’s responsibility… to speak up.” “Be overt in your support,” said Sgt. Dale Waltz of the Canton, Michigan, township police. “Be a little loud in support of those being discriminating against.” When incidents happen “don’t just sit in the background, reach out to your Muslim friends, the Muslim community. Let them know you support them and ask them what they need.” The township 30 miles west of Detroit has two mosques, two Sikh temples and a Hindu temple, he said. In 2008 a police lieutenant, who is now the public safety director, initiated the founding of Canton Responds to Hate Crimes, even though the community had seen few such incidents. The idea, Waltz said, is to engage the community and that even seemingly small incidents of prejudice or somebody “spewing racial hatred” are worth addressing. Recently one woman wearing a hijab walking near a local restaurant had someone passing in a vehicle shout at her “go home.” Her response: “You mean five minutes from here?” Another elderly woman was accosted in the grocery store. Actions need not lead to legal action, he said. Rather they help to spot more widespread issues that need to be addressed. “We make sure…