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Cape joins other cities in plan to fight extremism, promote justice and equality

By Staff | Aug 25, 2017

The city of Cape Coral has joined hundreds of municipalities nationwide in a joint plan to fight extremism and bigotry and promote justice and equality within their communities.

In response to the disturbing hate and violence seen recently in Charlottesville, Virginia, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Anti-Defamation League partnered together on the 10-point initiative called the “Mayors’ Compact to Combat Hate, Extremism, and Bigotry,” according to a statement.

“We must double down in our efforts to combat hate in our cities,” Sheri Zvi, the Florida regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, reported. “Mayors have unique roles in affecting change in communities we encourage all Florida mayors to commit to this effort in the coming days.”

Approximately 300 mayors from across the country have pledged to implement the plan, including more than 40 from Florida. Mayor Marni Sawicki has added her name and the Cape’s to the list.

“Cape Coral is fortunate in that we have not experienced any type of overt extremist, or hateful, activity,” Sawicki said via email. “This does not mean we can stand back as these types of events unfold across the country. It is important for mayors to stand united against extremism, and hatred, in each of our cities.”

According to The Mayors’ Compact website, the key components are:

* Expressly rejecting extremism, white supremacy and all forms of bigotry.

* Denouncing all acts of hate wherever they occur.

* Ensuring public safety while protecting free speech and other basic constitutional rights.

* Calling for fully-resourced law enforcement and civil rights investigations of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.

* Elevating and prioritizing anti-bias and anti-hate programs in our nation’s schools.

* Supporting targeted communities and bringing together civic and community leaders to build trust.

* Celebrating diversity, promoting inclusivity and challenging bias.

* Promoting law enforcement training on responding to and reporting hate incidents, hate crimes and domestic terrorism.

* Encouraging residents in their communities to report hate incidents and crimes, including using hot lines and online tools.

* Maintaining civil rights enforcement and strengthening hate crime laws when necessary.

“I think all 10 (points) are equally important,” Sawicki said. “Again, Cape Coral has been fortunate thus far and I believe that can be attributed to our city’s diverse population, as well as our outstanding police department and their continuing community outreach and involvement.”

She pointed out that the city is really not doing anything different.

“Our police department continues their training, which has included responding to hate crimes. Our hiring practices are non-discriminatory, and our employee regulations include language regarding harassment,” Sawicki said. “As a city we will continue to encourage diversity and inclusivity whenever and wherever we can.”

She noted that maintaining the city’s diversity is key to the future.

“While I’m sure we all hope Cape Coral’s sense of diversity doesn’t change, I believe we must continue to stand together as a community to keep hate and extremism at bay,” Sawicki said. “Looking to the future, I am unsure what changes and improvements might be necessary, but it will be incumbent upon each of us to remain united and be willing to support those changes necessary should the need arise.”

For more information on the compact, visit online at: mayorscompact.org/.