BOISE – A bipartisan group of Idaho elected officials came together at the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial on Thursday to denounce hate speech and celebrate the community’s overwhelming response to racist vandalism at the memorial, which has included an outpouring of donations.
More than $65,000 already has been raised to repair damage to marble tablets and other features at the memorial after they were marred with racist and anti-Semitic graffiti over the course of four consecutive days.
Philanthropist Greg Carr has challenged Idahoans to match his donation of $175,000 toward expanding the memorial with a new outdoor human rights classroom, to be named for the late Marilyn Shuler, longtime head of the Idaho Human Rights Commission.
“When I heard the news about the defacing of the Anne Frank Memorial, I was appalled, like you,” Idaho GOP Sen. Mike Crapo told a crowd of more than 80 people, who gathered amid light rain showers. “Our country is divided, and I see frustration playing out almost every day in Washington, D.C., but we also see it playing out across the country. We see evidence today, like the nooses at the Black History Museum in Washington, D.C. Like the vandalizing of LeBron James’ apartment. Like the train killings in Portland, and the list can go on.
“It is unacceptable,” Crapo said, “and I am so excited to hear that we are going to use the vandalism that occurred here to not only reject hate in Idaho, but to expand the memorial, and use it for an opportunity for growth.”
Crapo read a statement that he recently read into the record on the floor of the U.S. Senate, saying, in part, “Kindness, support and respect run deep in Idaho. … Rather than responding with anger and hate, Idaho is moving forward with a positive spirit of renewal and inclusiveness.”
Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, told the crowd, “This is who we are: We stand up, we speak out, we don’t tolerate hate. … And this memorial, which is an outward, tangible manifestation of what’s in our hearts and souls, gives me courage – it gives me the desire to keep on keeping on, and I hope it does it for you, too.”
Buckner-Webb, the Idaho Senate’s assistant minority leader and a noted jazz singer with a resounding voice, said, “We’re going to hope that we vanquish, vanquish the oppressor that would diminish this place. Don’t get weary, don’t get tired, stand strong – we are with you, we are beside you. You are our neighbors, you are our friends, our family. Let’s stay together. Amen!”
Senate Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder, R-Boise, said of Buckner-Webb, “Even though we’re on two different sides of the political spectrum, we come together on a lot of issues.
“We stand here today to confront evil in our community, to confront the injustice that occurred here, and to let all people know that we will not stand, we will not remain silent when it comes to these types of issues in our community.”
Rep. Hy Kloc, D-Boise, who was born in a displaced persons refugee camp to holocaust survivors at the end of World War II, said, “It’s so important that the community rally around and make sure that as soon as the ugly head of hate pops up, somebody’s there to lop it off. Because that’s the only way that we will be able to defeat this as a community.
“Individual people cannot fight it, but if we join together, we can fight it and win.”
The memorial is an educational park dedicated in 2002, funded by contributions from more than 3,000 individuals and corporations.
Schoolchildren across the state collected coins to fund a life-size, $42,000 bronze sculpture of Anne Frank, the young Holocaust victim whose diary is among the world’s most widely read books and has been translated into more than 60 languages. In her diary, Frank famously wrote, “I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”
The site functions as an outdoor classroom, a place of contemplation, a tourist attraction, a gathering place and a monument.
Dan Prinzing, director of the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights, which built the memorial and operates it in partnership with the city of Boise, said 10,000 schoolchildren a year tour the site.
Located along the Boise River Greenbelt in downtown Boise, the memorial features the statue of Frank, peering out a window, along with marble tablets engraved with the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, waterfalls, reflecting ponds and other features aimed at contemplation, inspiration and human rights. It is the only permanent Anne Frank memorial in the United States.
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