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Town debates ‘No Hate Community’ signs

Town Board members said they are hesitant about the Anti-Bias Task Force’s idea to place 25 signs around town identifying Riverhead  as a “No Hate Community.”

Earlier plans late in 2017 had called for the signs to say “No Hate Zone,” but some task force members said that was a more negative message, according to Ms. Kent, the Town Board’s liaison to the task force, which is a voluntary committee that now has about 30 members.

“This group felt they want to make a strong statement,” Ms. Kent said. 

A mock-up of a proposed sign includes the “no hate” message, the task force’s hotline number, 631-727-3200, ext. 303, and an advisory to call 911 in case of immediate emergency.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio noted concern among people living near where the signs would be placed, who felt they promote a perception that their community is a hateful place.

“I’m not crazy about these signs,” Supervisor Jens-Smith said. 

Mr. Wooten said there are already “zero-tolerance zone” signs on Main Street.” Those zones went into effect in 2008 with the intent to “eliminate blight,” such as graffiti or loitering, according to the town code. 

Mr. Hubbard, echoing Ms. Giglio, said he wasn’t sure he understands the purpose of the signs. 

“It just makes no sense to me,” he said, adding that if signs are installed, he’d rather they provide information on who to contact if they have an issue and let people know about the Anti-Bias Task Force.

Ms. Jens-Smith wondered if the signs should carry a more positive message, such as “caring community.” Other board members said they are not sure any sign would sway someone to act a certain way.

“We don’t want too many signs,” Ms. Kent said. “We are also working on cleaning up all the signs in the community.” 

Ms. Kent said she would relay the board’s comments to the task force. 

The task force is also working on stickers that business owners can place on their storefronts with the message, “Celebrating difference, embracing quality.” Board members did express support for the stickers, but suggested a change to some colors.

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