Video Made At City Hall Responds to Hate Attacks

Jewish Herald-Voice

Bishop Rinehart, AJC President Dorit Aaron and Police Chief Art Acevedo

Due to recent attacks against the Asian and Jewish communities during the COVID-19 outbreak in the city, AJC Houston’s Community of Conscience members met with Mayor Sylvester Turner and Council members Abbie Kamin and Letitia Plummer. The one-hour meeting, via Zoom on April 13, was to encourage officials to speak out against hate during the coronavirus outbreak.

Mayor Turner also asked the Community of Conscience to speak out. He invited members of the group to participate in a video being created at City Hall to promote the tenet that “we are all in this together.”

The Houston Community of Conscience was launched in 2019 at AJC’s America’s Table Thanksgiving breakfast. Comprised of leaders from Houston’s faith and ethnic communities, the group is based on the shared commitment to unite against hate and to promote pluralism in our nation.

The video will include Asians, Latinos, people of color, Jews, Muslims, LGBTQ and Anglos, sharing that an attack against any faith or ethnic group is an attack on all of us. Their statements will emphasize that many of us are immigrants, we all work together, and that the coronavirus does not differentiate among nationalities. We all are Houstonians.

Five separate videos will be distributed to area news stations in Spanish and English.

In the conversation with city-elected officials, members of the Community of Conscience shared their continued concern that many municipalities are not reporting hate crime data to the FBI. The FBI Houston office recently released its own report, stating an anticipated increase in antisemitism after the virus is contained.

Participating in the video, declaring “WeAreAllinThisTogether” are Shariq Ghani, Allan Van Fleet, Randy Czarlinsky, Dr. Zahra Jamal, Conchita Reyes, Alison Leland, Chief Art Acevedo, Judson Robinson III, Linda Toyota, Dorit Aaron, Bishop Michael Rinehart, Zaf Tahir, Toni Ramos, Rabbi Gideon Estes, Rabbi Steve Morgen and Imam Waleed Basyouni.

During the conversation, it was noted that the NO HATE ACT is before Congress and co-sponsored by Rep. Pete Olson as the lead Republican. Mayor Turner agreed with the concept for the city to adopt a No Hate ordinance, patterned after the congressional language. The Community of Conscience will work with Council member Kamin, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, on draft language for the ordinance.

The group has met during the winter, and small delegations have met with general managers of area news stations to discuss coverage and the need for stories to reflect the city’s diversity.