WESTPORT, Conn. -- Westport will hold a community conversation Sunday in response to the "White Lives Matter" fliers found outside homes last week.
The fliers are a single sheet folded into fours with the message #White Lives Matter, and were found outside homes in Westport last Thursday and Friday. Similar fliers have also appeared in Fairfield, Milford and East Haven.
In response to the fliers, there will be a community conversation held Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Westport Library. Participants will include First Selectman Jim Marpe, Rev. Alison Patton, and Dan Woog.
The following statement was issued Thursday, signed by the Interfaith Clergy Association of Westport and Weston, the Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County, Westport Human Services Commission, the Westport Board of Education, Westport Police and TEAM Westport:
"On the night of Thursday, May 7, 2015 fliers containing the slogan, "#White Lives Matter" were left anonymously at a number of residences in Westport. We are deeply troubled by this campaign. While some have raised questions about the intent of the slogan, it is clear from similar campaigns in neighboring towns that this message was motivated by racism, which we reject absolutely and without qualification. Further, we contend that dismantling racism requires us to attend to the impact of actions, regardless of intent. These fliers attempt to co-opt a movement that has been created by citizens of color across our nation to redress disparities in treatment, based on race. We are united in declaring that these fliers have no place in Westport, which aspires to be an inclusive community that values a diverse population."
"We affirm the principle that all lives matter equally," the statement continues. "However, there is much more work to do before our nation achieves genuine equality across race and ethnicity. In circumstances where this equality is not upheld, we affirm our commitment to support and pursue constructive efforts to redress institutional and cultural racism which tears at the fabric of our nation."
"In the next several months we will organize a number of opportunities in Westport for education, discussion and engagement on matters relating to race relations in the United States," the statement said. The first one held Sunday will address why the fliers matter.
The message #BlackLivesMatter has been used by protesters since last summer after incidents in which African-Americans have died at the hands of police officers, most notably in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City as well as most recently in Baltimore.
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