Community Forum Looks At Ways To Counter Hate Crimes In Wichita
Acting U.S. attorney Thomas Beall led a panel of religious and community leaders this week to discuss recent hate crimes in Wichita and how to speak up against discrimination. KMUW’s Nadya Faulx reports the event was just the first in a planned series on building a better community.
More than 100 people gathered Tuesday at the University Congregational Church to talk about how Wichita can support victims of hate crimes and prevent them in the future. Panelist Jackie Carter, pastor at the predominantly LGBT Metropolitan Community Church, says acts of vandalism there have escalated since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage last year.
According to FBI statistics, there were 73 reported hate crimes in Kansas in 2014. Beall says incidents are likely underreported. He says his office wants to work with local organizations on civil rights initiatives.
"Often the word that has become popular in the last 10 or 15 years is 'tolerance.' Tolerance is not good enough. To tolerate someone is to put up with them. That is a low bar," he told the audience. "We need to be talking about acceptance and embracing each other’s differences. I think that’s where we need to be."
Panelists included Hussam Madi, spokesman for the Islamic Society of Wichita; Rev. Jackie Carter, pastor at Metropolitan Community Church; Galyn Vesey, project director of Research on Black Wichita; and Ann Garvey, a Second Church of Christ Scientist.
Organizers with Inter-Faith Ministries of Wichita say the event was just the beginning of a larger conversation. They want to hold quarterly panels to focus on different issues and, ultimately, solutions.
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