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'So many of them said, I am proud to sign this,' Local organization puts out letter addressing hate speech and bias

A recent ad found inside a local newspaper is getting some attention throughout the community. Found inside Terre Haute's Tribune-Star, it includes a letter and signatures from local leaders.

Posted: Aug 4, 2020 8:45 AM
Updated: Aug 4, 2020 8:45 AM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI)- A recent ad found inside a local newspaper is getting some attention throughout the community. 

Found inside Terre Haute's Tribune-Star, it includes a letter and signatures from local leaders.

It was written by the InterFaith Council of the Wabash Valley but those who signed the letter represent a bigger meaning.

The letter addressed issues like bias and hate speech.

Here's the letter as it printed exactly in the ad:

"We of the InterFaith Council (IFC), an organization made up of individuals of diverse religious faiths and humanitarian belief systems, join Wabash Valley community leaders in expressing concern that hateful rhetoric, bias incidents, and hate crimes -- as well as the
groups and individuals that engage in them -- are on the rise throughout the United States and that they threaten the freedom, peace, happiness, and security that we as a society treasure and have fought so hard to preserve. We note with alarm that hate recruitment fliers and bias incidents have recently appeared in nearby Indiana cities and towns, even here in the Wabash Valley. We therefore express our determination that our community continue being a safe and welcoming place to live and visit for people of all faiths, races, ages, gender identifications, and ethnicities. We want to send a strong clear message to anti-welcoming organizations and individuals that their biased, hateful words and actions, meant to intimidate and exclude, oppose our community’s core values of love, respect, friendship, and inclusion and are not welcome here."

IFC President, Arthur Feinsod, tells us the signatures go beyond names on a letter.

"So many of them said I am proud to sign this. I am proud to be included on this list, that did my heart good because it's not just a 'Well ok I'll sign it. It was more of a like yes I believe in this, I'm glad it's out there, I want to put my name to it,'" said Feinsod.

Vigo County Sheriff John Plasse was one of many community leaders to sign the document.

"I wanted to sign it because we have too much hate in this world and we all need to accept each other's differences and treat each other like we want to be treated," said Plasse. 

Feinsod says this letter is just a step in the right direction.

"I believe in free speech and I believe everybody that signed that believes in free speech but many of us also believe in a responsible speech that if its speech that hurts somebody makes them not feel like they don't belong, that speech should not be spoken."

Here are a list of the people who signed the letter:

IFC Members:                                                       

Alma Mary Anderson, CSC
Jacquelyn Bradfield
Rod M. Bradfield
A. Theressa Bynum
Jane Conner
Sheron Dailey
Sister Paula Damiano, SP
Father Drew Downs
Sylvester Edwards
Phil Ewoldsen
Bionca Gambill
Thomas Johnson
Jean Kristeller
Matt Larimer
Jessica Meadows
Sister Mary Montgomery, SP
Brother William Morris, JD
Sylvia Oster
Susan Powers
Dr. Crystal Mikell Reynolds
Riem Rostom
Reverend Doddie Stone
David B. Vogel
Reverend Rebecca Zelensky

Community Leaders:

Mayor Duke A. Bennett
Dr. Shikha Bhattacharyya
Melvin L. Burks
Greg Bierly
Caroline Carvill
El-Houcin Chaqra
Peter Ciancone
Martha Crossen
Curtis DeBaun IV
James D. Edwards
Dr. Elonda Ervin
T.H. Fire Chief Jeff Fisher
State Senator Jon Ford
VCSC Board and Rob Haworth
Lorrie Heber
Kristi Howe
Brendan Kearns
T.H. Police Chief Shawn Keen
Mary Kramer
Vigo County Councilman
Aaron Loudermilk
Jacqueline Lower
James Richard Mann II
Chris McGrew
Fred J. Nation
Todd Nation
Chris Olsen
David A. Patterson
State Representative
Tonya Pfaff
V.C. Sheriff John Plasse
Jon Robeson
Lisa Spence-Bunnett
Vigo County Councilman
Chris Switzer
Vigo County Councilman
David Thompson

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