The murder of 11 parishioners at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue was the impetus for more than 400 Boulder residents to attend an educational forum Monday night. KGNU’s Roz Brown says the event at Boulder’s Jewish Community Center featured local leaders who offered condolences and resources.
Pittsburgh is 1500 miles from Boulder, but for those like Joe who’ve been part of the Boulder Jewish community for 50 years it could just as well have happened here.
“I’ve never been so upset as I was about what happened in Pittsburgh and I needed to follow up in any way I could. I appreciated the positive effort people on the panels made and it’s helpful to know there’s such good leadership in Boulder.”
Those leaders made themselves available Monday night at a gathering called: “Boulder County Responds to Hate.” They didn’t address the specific motives of 46-year old shooter Robert Bowers, but panel participants included those with experience – police officers, school district officials, LGBTQ advocates and multiple other representatives from groups whose purpose is to support those society discriminates against.
Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty said one of the first things he did when he took office was implement a hotline, 303-441-1595, for citizens to report a hate crime.
“We know there are hate crimes that are not reported to law enforcement, this is a gap that exists, so we’re doing training and community outreach to respond to incidents.”
Jonathan Lev is the JCC executive director and said times of crisis bring communities together.
“The unfortunate nature of this event being connected to the horrible, anti-Semitic act in Pittsburgh is one way we can charge this community to do something different,” said Lev. “We have 450 people here tonight and had 700 at a gathering last night to focus on the victims. It’s a testament to what we can do in Boulder and how we can make change.”
CU professor Michelle Simpson related incidences of discrimination that students of color have experienced, not just since President Donald Trump was elected, but for decades.
“These kinds of hate crimes have been with us for generations, but it’s been elevated to a new ‘high’ because people feel they have more permission.”
Boulderite Sharon Raus said she appreciated that presenters encouraged people to speak up if they see discrimination or even if they just see community members, who would appreciate being seen.
“We don’t have to wait for an incident, we can talk to someone in the community and ask them about their day or to share a table, so I’d like to be proactive in addition to being reactive,” said Raus. “Expand your sphere – make your sphere bigger.”