Press Releases

HHRC Press Releases

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world – indeed, it is the only thing that ever does.

– Margaret Meade

March 15, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SPOTLIGHT ON BULLYING at HOLOCAUST & HUMAN RIGHTS CENTER

Enlarging its focus to address the crisis of bullying in Maine schools, the Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine will showcase a May series of free community roundtables and workshops entitled:

    BULLY 2.0
    from kicking sand to clicking send

Vexing questions surround the hot-button issue of bullying – for kids, parents, teachers, and legislators. How can our children feel safe on the internet? Are adolescent bullies merely kids being kids – can we stop human nature? Are tougher laws and swifter punishments effective? Or are we just bullying the bullies? Where do we draw the line?

Testing old wisdom against fresh ideas and preventive approaches, BULLY 2.0 broadens the scope of HHRC’s ongoing Series 360º Human rights from all angles. All events will take place at the Michael Klahr Center at UMA Augusta, and are free and open to the community.

BULLY 2.0 launches *Wednesday, May 2nd at 7 pm with the 2010 film, Bullied: The Documentary. Join Brandon Baldwin, Director of the Maine Attorney General’s Civil Rights Team Project, Pam Anderson of the Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast, Maryam Mermey of The Transformative Arts and members of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) after the 45-minute film for an open conversation with students and parents.

*On Wednesday, May 9th at 7 pm, HHRC will host an interactive roundtable on the topic:

    The Bullying Crisis: Old School Solutions vs. Fresh Alternatives

Moderated by Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice, Richard Lumb, the panelists will include State Senator Justin Alfond, Nicole Manganelli from The Unity Project, Stan Davis from Stop Bullying Now, Chuck Saufler from Safe Schools for All, and Brandon Baldwin from the Attorney General’s office.

Mad versus Mean, a workshop designed for girls in 3rd through 5th grades, will be offered on Saturday, May 12th at 3 pm by Hardy Girls Healthy Women from Waterville, Maine. Enrollment limited to thirty girls.

*On Wednesday, May 16th at 7 pm, middle school students from Maine’s Civil Rights Teams will take center stage in a panel presented by kids for parents. The topic:

    The Cyber Face of Bullying: From Kicking Sand to Clicking Send

BULLY 2.0 culminates on *Wednesday, May 23rd at 7 pm with an open workshop, designed for civic, religious, and law enforcement workers, to explore “The Circle” process as a community-building alternative approach to bullying intervention. Presented by Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast.

Active in Maine since 1985, and housed since 2008 in the Michael Klahr Center at the University of Maine at Augusta, the Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine is resource center dedicated to education, exhibition, and advocacy in communities and classrooms throughout Maine.

Contact Liz Helitzer at HHRC at 207.621.3530 for a complete calendar of Series 360º events. Or find the HHRC at hhrc.uma.edu and on Facebook.

*Contact hours for asterisked events are available. Registration forms may be picked up at the Holocaust & Human Rights Center on the day of event.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Published in Kennebec Journal, October 11, 2010

Dear Editor:
Cowards love to hide behind anonymous hate speech.

Such is the case on Townsend Road in Augusta with the discovery Monday morning of a Roger Katz campaign sign overwritten with antisemitic graffiti.

While the roots of Jew hatred are gnarled and run deep, such antisemitic slurs that smack of conspiracies are clearly not the shared values of this community. The vast majority of the citizens of Augusta and the state of Maine know that open dialogue is far more productive in moving a democratic society forward than a skulker’s hate speech scrawled on a plywood sign.

Sincerely,

Robert Bernheim, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine

Date: April 30, 2010

Holocaust & Human Rights Center Applauds Interfaith Response to Swastika

A planned interfaith service in Winthrop at 1:30 pm on Sunday is being hailed by the Maine Holocaust & Human Rights Center as an appropriate and necessary response to the painting of a large swastika on a street in Winthrop, near the home of a Jewish family.

The service will be held at the Winthrop United Methodist Church on Main Street. The Center encourages all Mainers to attend, and to add their voices to the statement being made public at the service: zero tolerance of the use of the swastika and other hate symbols for any reason.

“We congratulate the Winthrop Area Ministerial Association for organizing and hosting this swift and united response to hate,” said Rabbi Hillel Katzir, chairman of the HHRC’s Advocacy Committee. “Even though the police don’t think the nearby Jewish family was the target, all Mainers must get out the message that this kind of act is not welcome anywhere in our state.”

Date: September 27, 2009

Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine Urges “NO” Vote on Question 1

The Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine believes that marriage is a sacred institution that should be protected and strengthened whenever possible.

Since the laws of our state already prohibit bias on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, physical or mental disability or sexual orientation, we also believe that Mainers should honor marriage equality, and vote NO on Question 1 in November.

Marriage equality honors all Mainers in the effort to preserve civil rights and foster social justice.

Date: July 6, 2006

Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine Speaks Out Against Mosque Hate Crime in Lewiston

The members of the Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine condemn the desecration of religious prayers at the Islamic Mosque in Lewiston.

Unlike much of the rest of the world, the United States has long been safe from major religious-based conflict. September 11, 2001 has changed all that. Since then, and with the widening of the conflicts in the Middle East, ignorance, fear, and hostility have become part of the American religious scene.

The Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine asks the people of Maine to hear our plea. Do not let human differences blind you to the realization that all Americans have the right to pursue their beliefs in an atmosphere of dignity and respect.

We ask you to speak out. We ask the people of Maine to discover their common humanity, and to acknowledge peacefully the profound differences that define the religious and ethnic pluralism of our state and nation.

We ask the people of Maine not to commit the sin of silence. We must consider any form of violence against any one of our religious or minority communities as a form of violence against us all. We must speak up for the rights and freedoms that we celebrated on July 4 as Americans just hours after the disgraceful act that was committed against the Muslim community of Lewiston.

Date: December 20, 1999

“Big Squaw” Should Be Changed

The Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine
has issued a statement opposing the use of Native American words as names for public places and sports teams.

“We are sensitive and respectful to the history, traditions and culture of Native Americans. It is therefore with a sense of urgency that we stand opposed to, and seek changes to, the inappropriate use of words that are disparaging, demeaning and culturally offensive to the Wabanaki, the native people of Maine.”

Date: September 29, 1999

Governor Proclaims October 7 as Stop Hate Violence Day

Governor Angus S. King, Jr. has proclaimed October 7, 1999 as Stop the Hate Violence Day.

On October 7, 1999, at Capital Park in Augusta, a coalition of the Augusta Clergy Association and the Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine will co-sponsor a vigil against hate violence. The vigil will bring together ordinary people of faith and good will to raise awareness about hate violence, to provide a time of healing, and to remember the victims.

During the last year the nation has been shocked by the brutal murders of James Byrd and Matthew Shapard, the killings at Columbine High School, the shootings at the Jewish Day Care Center in California, and, most recently, the killings at the Wedgwood Church in Fort Worth, Texas. In response, the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Interfaith Alliance – Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Sikh, Baha’i, Unitarian, Buddhist and other faith community leaders – are organizing Stop the Hate Violence vigils, a national campaign to raise awareness about hate violence.

The Stop the Hate campaign marks the first national interfaith response to the epidemic of hate violence in our society.

Date: October 29, 1998

Ecumenical Service for Victims of Hate Crimes

In response to the murder of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, the Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine and Augusta Clergy Association will co-sponsor an ecumenical service in support and memory of victims of hate crimes. The service is scheduled for Monday, November 9th at 7 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Augusta.

It is fitting that this service be held on the 60th anniversary of Kristallnacht – “the night of broken glass” – when Jewish shops and synagogues were destroyed in Nazi riots, and many Jews were attacked or killed.

Join your voice with Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish clergy, along with all concerned citizens, to proclaim Maine to be a place of compassion, respect, and acceptance.

Date: September 24, 1998

Holocaust Center Condemns Desecration of Enfield House of Worship

In light of the recent desecration of the Aroostook Hebrew Community Synagogue in Presque Isle, the Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine was saddened to hear of the vandalism at the Enfield Baptist Church.

“It was a devastating shock to see the destruction and obscene writings and drawings,” said Sherry Cross, a parishioner of the Enfield Baptist Church. The perpetrators also wrote “Heil Hitler” and other defamatory remarks about Jews.

The Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine, a statewide non-denominational educational organization, encouraged members of the Enfield Baptist Church to join them at the Rally Against Hate, to be held Thursday at 3 p.m. on the steps of the State House.

Date: September 22, 1998

Ecumenical Rally Supports Jewish Community

As the Jewish community in Aroostook County was preparing for Rosh Hashanah, the high holy days, Nazi swastikas and the words “Burn Jews” appeared in black marker on the doors of the Aroostook Hebrew Community Synagogue in Presque Isle.

An ecumenical rally to support the Aroostook County Jewish community is scheduled for Thursday, September 24th, at 3 p.m. on the steps of the State House.

The Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine joins Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish clergy, along with all concerned citizens, to loudly proclaim and defend Maine as a place of compassion, respect, and acceptance.

Date: December 1, 1997

Chinese Dissident Harry Wu to Address HHRC

Chinese dissident Harry Wu will be the featured speaker at an event sponsored by the Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine on Tuesday, December 9, at 7 p.m.

Mr. Wu, known around the world for his efforts to bring human rights to China, will speak at the Unitarian Universalist Community Church, 69 Winthrop Street in Augusta. The event is free and open to the public.

After 19 years in Chinese prison camps, known as Laogai, Mr. Wu came to the United States in 1985 as guest lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley. Since then Mr. Wu has spoken extensively about his experiences, and has returned to China several times to document the existence and inhumanity of the Laogai.

In 1995 Wu was detained by the Chinese, despite the fact that he held an American passport, and was tried and convicted for crimes against the Communist state. His reprieve and return to the United States may have been due to the eagerness of the Chinese to have Hilary Clinton attend the U.N. Women’s Conference in Beijing.

Today Mr. Wu continues to lead the struggle for human rights in China.