The Dutchess County Commission on Human Rights is devastated and outraged by the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, Dallas and Laguna Woods. Eleven people have been murdered in these attacks, with more injured. Occurring within days of one another, two of these crimes appear to have specifically targeted people based on the color of their skin. In Dallas, Texas, three Korean American businesses were targeted. Eleven of the thirteen people shot in Buffalo were Black and the multitude of evidence left behind by the shooter leaves little doubt as to his hate-fueled motivation.
**With respect to Laguna Woods, California, information has emerged from the affected community that the shooting at the Taiwanese Presbyterian Church was carried out by a person who is also Taiwanese, and not from mainland China as had been earlier reported.
We mourn for all of the individuals lost this weekend, who will be denied the beauty of sunrises and sunsets, birthday celebrations and many joyous occasions with family and friends. We are united in our support as together we grieve the loss of lives with their families and community.
The Commission has documented numerous hate-based incidents and crimes in Dutchess County directed against our Asian-American and African-American communities. Members of our Asian-American communities have been spit on while walking down the street, been told to “get away from me,” and received angry stares while standing in a grocery line six feet apart. Our African-American community has been targeted with slurs on public property; Black Lives Matter yard signs repeatedly destroyed and vandalized; Confederate flags flown on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday; and most recently, an offense charged as a race-based hate crime.
Now more than ever, we must strengthen our human bonds, joining with our neighbors to reject hatred and white supremacist ideology. The Commission on Human Rights calls on all communities of good conscience to rise together, United Against Hate.
To learn more about hate crime, view our recent webinar: Hate Crime: What it Is and Is Not: A Panel Discussion
**Current media reporting has given the impression that this was a person from the Chinese mainland rather than Taiwan, thereby framing the tragic incident as pitting two Chinese-American communities against each other. Information from the affected community has clarified that the shooter was, like his victims, Taiwanese, and that while the crime may have been politically motivated by ideological differences regarding the status of Taiwan (although additional information about the person is still emerging), it has been an isolated incident and does not represent a pattern of violence among Chinese-Americans.
The Dutchess County Commission on Human Rights is grateful for the safe release of hostages at Beth Israel Congregation in Colleyville, Texas.
Since its reestablishment in 2016, the Commission has documented the rise in hate and bias incidents in Dutchess County. More than 50% of these incidents have been antisemitic and have included swastika graffiti, antisemitic flyers and in-person statements, and the display of a Nazi flag. These demonstrations of bigotry are as repugnant as they are dangerous.
The Commission calls on all people of good conscience to stand with the Jewish community and against hatred.
We are deeply saddened and troubled by the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of those slain, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, whose family shared about the verdict, “It sends the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any town, incite violence, and then use the danger they have created to justify shooting people in the street. We hope that decent people will join us in forcefully rejecting that message and demanding more of our laws, our officials, and our justice system.”
A sad truth is that we, like many, are not surprised by the verdict. While we acknowledge the verdict of the jury, we do not and will accept the disparities in justice that continue to take place. The Dutchess County Commission on Human Rights remains fully committed to its work of ensuring that our community is inclusive and respectful for all, with the human rights of every individual protected and championed.
The Dutchess County Commission on Human Rights stands with the people of Afghanistan and condemns the unfolding human rights violations that they are suffering. The devastating images of people risking their lives to flee the country demands that the international community, including the United States, do everything in its power to protect and save lives. Given the brutal repression and violence that they have been subject to historically under the Taliban, especially women and girls, nothing less is acceptable. As the world bears witness, it must also act to provide aid and asylum to all whose lives are in peril.
August 19, 2021
The Dutchess County Commission on Human Rights mourns the innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians killed and injured over the past two weeks. We hope that there is a lasting ceasefire and that those responsible for the safety and well-being of people in the region work for a civil society that is just for all.
May 21, 2021
The guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial is one act of accountability for taking the life of a Black man. It does not equate with justice since George Floyd's life as a father, brother, friend and neighbor mattered and he should still be with us. On the same day, close to the time that the verdict was read, a 16 year old Black girl, Ma'Khia Bryant, was shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio. We mourn all that Ma'Kiha's life could have been were she still with us. The Commission on Human Rights stands in solidarity with the movement for Black Lives because unequivocally, Black Lives Matter.
April 24, 2021
The murders of eight people in the Atlanta area, including six Asian women, are the latest and deadliest examples of a nationwide wave of hate that has been continually aimed at Asian-Americans over the past year. These and other acts of violence - and the rhetoric that fosters them - are as reprehensible as they are wrong. They must stop, now. The Dutchess County Commission on Human Rights condemns the anti-Asian bigotry that has led to this and other tragedies.
March 17, 2021
The Dutchess County Commission on Human Rights is firmly opposed to any group of human beings being singled out for use as mascots or symbols based on their racial and ethnic heritage. We recognize that this practice as related to America’s Indigenous peoples has a long history; it is past time that we as a society move beyond it. Even the most well-meaning contention that Native peoples are being honored in this way rings hollow when those whose heritage and history are being appropriated unanimously express their opposition and articulate the hurt that it causes. We ask all members of our county community to repudiate the use of mascots or symbols based on racial and ethnic heritage and to recognize the important lived experience of all those who live in our neighborhoods, communities, and across our county.
The Dutchess County Commission on Human Rights stands in support of the "Stop Hate For Profit” campaign to encourage social media companies to address hate in its various forms that exist on various social media platforms. These platforms have great potential to promote an inclusive and equitable community and must refuse to be used to foment hate through the spreading of racial tropes, bigotry and misinformation.
Although freedom of speech is a bedrock principle of our country, it should not be abused and subverted for purposes of division and prejudice which ultimately can restrict the ability of so many targeted groups to live in peace and harmony in their communities.
We strongly recommend that the principal business leaders overseeing the social media platforms take action to formulate an effective approach of clear and strictly enforced rules and guidelines for its users, to eliminate this ongoing misuse of social media. Restore social media to its intended purpose of good.
August 10, 2020
The Dutchess County Commission on Human Rights stands in solidarity with the Black community and with all people of good conscience, as we honor George Floyd’s life and urge that justice be served in the wake of his death. There is a direct link between the reason our community is coming together and what is taking place throughout our nation, especially from young people. “Black Lives Matter” is a declaration that we cannot and must not look away from or ignore. We must value the lives of Black and Brown people and to do that we must change the unjust inequities that exist. This includes the disproportionate toll that the COVID-19 epidemic has taken on the Black and Latinx communities, and in the seemingly never-ending list of names of Black people who have lost their lives unjustly. Black and Brown lives must be valued equally if we are ever to move forward as a nation.
The savage attack last night in Monsey is, tragically, the latest in a deeply disturbing series of attacks in the New York metropolitan area over the past three weeks that have cast the dark shadow of anti-Semitic violence over seasonal celebrations of light, and have brought that violence ever closer to own county. The Dutchess County Commission on Human Rights stands in solidarity with our Jewish communities, and with all people of good will, in wholeheartedly condemning these crimes. We cannot remain silent in calling out hatred for what it is, and in denouncing the evil that results from it.
The Dutchess County Commission on Human Rights strongly condemns the cruel and un-American ideologies promulgated by the recent hanging of a Nazi flag in a Poughkeepsie window, as well as the posting in Millbrook of flyers for a white supremacist organization. These ideologies seek to inspire hatred of the “other” by evoking the heinous history of anti-Semitism, the abiding evil of racism, and the callous cruelty of homophobia. We are alarmed by the disturbing evidence of these ideologies in our community and stand with the vast majority of our Dutchess County neighbors in wholeheartedly rejecting them.
The fatal attack on a synagogue on Saturday in San Diego on the last day of Passover – six days after Easter Sunday attacks on Christians in Sri Lanka, six weeks after Muslims were attacked at prayer in New Zealand, and six months to the day after Jews were attacked at a Pittsburgh synagogue – is further evidence of a thoroughly despicable and monstrous pattern. Time and again, we are witnessing the massacre of innocents peacefully celebrating their faith, as perpetrators seething with hatred deliberately choose holy days to commit these heinous acts. As the online manifesto of the alleged perpetrator of this latest atrocity underscores, the link that connects each of these acts of madness could not be more clear. The Dutchess County Commission on Human Rights asks all people of goodwill to join in condemning and calling out the hatred responsible for such tragedies.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, passed 70 years ago by the United Nations under the guidance of Dutchess County’s own Eleanor Roosevelt, declares, "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes … freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."
The Dutchess County Commission on Human Rights unequivocally condemns the horrific attacks on Christians in Sri Lanka who lost their lives Easter Sunday because they were exercising this essential human right. Whether the victims are Muslims in a mosque in Christchurch, Jews in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Sikhs in a temple near Milwaukee, or Christians in churches in Charleston and Colombo, the source of these atrocities is invariably and tragically the same. It is incumbent upon all people of good will to stand in solidarity against such hatred.
The Commission on Human Rights is deeply saddened by the attack on the Christchurch mosque. Attacks fueled by hatred of identity, as we have seen with the Pulse Nightclub, Emanuel AME Zion Church and the Tree of Life Synagogue, to name just a few, continue to shock us. We are also reminded that we cannot let hate win. We must stand together across our differences, united in our humanity and love for one another. Love is stronger than hate.
The Dutchess County Commission on Human Rights joins with the United Nations, clergy of many faiths, Democrats and Republicans, and people of good conscience all over the world in condemning the separation of children from parents at US borders.
The parent/child relationship is universally recognized as deserving of special protection. A governmental intervention that breaches this relationship without adjudication, for anyone, but especially asylum seekers and others escaping brutal economic, social, and political conditions, is not only unwarranted, but cruel.
We urge the federal government to immediately end this practice.
The Dutchess County Commission on Human Rights condemns the use of profane language that diminishes groups of people, whole countries, or continents by anyone, especially the President of the United States. Such language perpetuates racism and xenophobia and widens divisions between communities and nations, endangering domestic tranquility and global peace. These words make our work to bridge divides and accept and honor differences more difficult. The Commission is committed to promoting the dignity and respect of all people and acts to foster such through its mission of Defending Human Rights, Bridging Differences and Embracing Diversity.