After string of racist incidents in Bristol, Diversity Council calls on city to take anti-racist actions
Residents of Bristol are standing up in the face of a string of racist incidents.
First, neo-Nazis gathered at a street corner with torches and a white supremacist banner in August. Then, the head of the town farmers market and member of the Rotary Club resigned after making racist social media posts. In late September, swastikas and racial slurs were found graffitied around town.
Some residents of Bristol are still on edge after this series of racist incidents around town.
Tony Lopes, a retired autopsy technician and one of the Diversity Council’s newest members, said after the events of the last few months, he felt called to stand up to racism and white supremacists.
“They don’t have a place … here in Bristol,” Lopes said.
Lopes was appointed to the board by Bristol’s Republican mayor, Jeff Caggiano, who did not return multiple requests for comment on the city’s recent hate incidents. Several community members have asked Caggiano to condemn white supremacy.
In August, Caggiano called racist social media posts from the former Rotary Club member “very disturbing” and said the individual would no longer be associated with the farmers market.
But Jaymie Bianca, chair of the city’s Diversity Council, said condemnation alone isn’t enough when the community feels unsafe.
“I feel like sometimes people just think they can say, ‘Oh, we denounce hate, hate isn’t welcome here,’” she said. “We not only need to say that we denounce white supremacy, but we need to have action.”
That action can include events, like an anti-racist speakers’ series, Bianca said, and the construction of a community center, where people from marginalized groups can come together and feel safe.
The hate rally and racist graffiti incidents are still under investigation, Bristol police said.