Press Conference Remarks of Lindsey Mintz, JCRC Executive Director

November 18, 2016

Good morning and thank you for being here today. My name is Lindsey Mintz, and I am the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council. I am also currently serving as the Board Chair of the Center for Interfaith Cooperation.

Today you will hear from representatives of the Jewish, Latino, Muslim, African American, and LGBTQ communities. We are standing together to express our respective community’s alarm, fear, and refusal to be silent. We are raising our voices together because we understand that act of violence directed at any of us, is an act that unequivocally harms all of us.

So on behalf of the Jewish community in Indianapolis, I am here today to express in the strongest possible terms the Jewish community’s alarm and condemnation of the sharp spike in the expression and acts of hate toward Jews, Latinos, the disabled, Muslims, African Americans, women, and the LGBT community. Every day, we are learning of another act that has taken place in Indiana – whether spray-painted on churches, in school hallways, on the street, or through social media.

Over the past 10 days, the JCRC has been alerted to a half-dozen acts of hate that have explicitly targeted Jews and the Jewish community, from swastikas and Nazi imagery vandalism, to the shouting of derogatory names; from South Bend to Bloomington, and from Richmond to Indianapolis.

Intolerance is pulsing through American society. Hate crimes damage the fabric of our society and fragment communities. These attacks aren’t simply damaging property, they are meant to terrorize our entire communities. People are afraid.

In the Jewish community, we know all too well what can happen when a particular group is singled out for stereotyping and scapegoating.

We refuse to allow hate-based rhetoric and violence to become “normal”. The experiences of the last week remind us that Indiana is one of only five states in the country that lacks a hate crime statute. Which is why the JCRC is proud to help lead the statewide coalition of nearly 30 organizations to support the passage of an Indiana Bias Crimes Statute.

A nation’s laws should reflect its social contract with all of its citizens. Adding a law addressing crimes based on prejudice would help align our laws with American values, and would send a strong message that hate-based violence in Indiana are anathema to our state and nation’s fundamental values of freedom and equality, which are the cornerstone of our democracy.

We implore members of the Indiana General Assembly to pass a bill that will finally make Indiana the 46th state with a hate crimes law. And we encourage our fellow Hoosiers to join us in this important endeavor by calling your state legislator to say that now is the time to pass a hate crimes bill in Indiana.

As a community with a long history of facing discrimination and violence, the Jewish community will always stand up against hate, and will always stand with those who may be singled out for how they look, where they’re from, who they love, or how they pray.

Expressions of hatred like this are direct affronts to American and Jewish values of inclusivity and pluralism, and to our belief that all human beings are created in the image of God. Respect for diversity is at the very core of our national identity, is vital for our democracy to thrive, and is among our most cherished values as Americans and as Jews.

Which is why I am so proud to be standing here today among friends and allies who represent the beautiful diversity that exists here in Indiana. Every day, each of us can model behavior worth emulating by our children: when we see intolerance or hatred directed toward anyone, make your voice for peace and respect one that echoes loudly over the voices of hatred. We are speaking out – in our own defense – and in defense of each other. And we are asking Hoosiers across this state to join us.

My remarks will be followed by:

  • Marlene Dotson, Indiana Latino Institute CEO
  • Rima Shahid, Muslim Alliance of Indiana Executive Director
  • Tony Mason, Indianapolis Urban League CEO
  • Jason Nolan-Doerr, Indy Pride Executive Director