Anti-hate forum is just the start


To the editor:

(re: “Forum enlists youth to fight against hate,” Oct. 26)

On Oct. 16, Sen. Jeff Klein, Councilman Andrew Cohen and the Fieldston Property Homeowners Association held an anti-hate panel at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School. The idea behind this was to host an evening filled with school, religious and community leaders to discuss religious and cultural tolerance and acceptance after a local teen committed a hate crime.

I am thankful that Sen. Klein was able to put together this panel discussion as a positive way to address hate crimes and intolerance in the Riverdale community.

I went to the panel discussion curious about what I would hear. I wanted to share ideas and make sense of what was happening in our community. Riverdale is a diverse community, and hate crimes are not the norm.

The panel that our community leaders and elected officials put together was as diverse as our neighborhood. Members of the panel included Mehnaz Afridi from Manhattan College, Avi Weiss from Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, Thomas Franks from Manhattan College, P.S. 24 principal Steve Schwartz, RKA principal Lori O’Mara, Councilman Cohen, Sen. Klein, and a representative from Eliot Engel’s office.

Several community residents attended, and the discussion we had was lively, informative and productive. We agreed that it is important to educate our children. Our children need to learn acceptance and share their cultural and religious differences.

We agreed to look further into what could be done. We spoke about ways to go about sharing our cultural experiences as a community.

The panel was a great beginning to what will be a continuing dialogue.

I am proud to be part of a community that is proactive, impassioned and committed to teaching tolerance.

Nina Velazquez

Nina Velazquez