Editorial Note: This event is related to an event that happened to two churches in Beacon this month. Please click here to learn more about that.
If last night’s Halloween candy didn’t leave you feeling nauseous today, then these two revelations will: A person acting on behalf a neo-Nazi group has posted anti-Semitic flyers to two churches in Beacon: The First Presbyterian Church at 50 Liberty St., just over the Fishkill Creek, and the Salem Tabernacle church, which is located at 7 Delavan Ave., just past Mavis Tire off of Route 52.
After the flyers were posted at the First Presbyterian Church, according to an article by Brian Cronin in the Highlands Current, Pastor Ben Larson-Wolbrink held up the flyer to his congregation, and said that it was not consistent with Jesus’ teaching to love and serve each other. According to the article, the Presbyterian congregation - which is normally silent during sermons - responded with a hearty “Amen.”
Pastor Ben (as he is known here in Beacon) smiled and chuckled at this out-of-character - but appreciated - outburst: “That’s something Presbyterians really don’t do,” he said with a smile.
The churches are not the only place the flyers showed up. They have been posted to Marist, Vassar, and Dutchess Community College. According to Brian’s reporting, on October 8, 2018, a man in a hooded shirt and rubber gloves was hanging anti-Semitic flyers at Marist College. He was confronted by police. The posters, according to Brian, say that they are sponsored by a local book club, which the Anti-Defamation League identifies as “small crews of young white men who follow and support” a person who started the neo-Nazi group referred to in the beginning of this article.
As reported by Michael Turton today in the Highlands Current, the Nelsonville home of a person of Jewish heritage was vandalized, with a swastika spray-painted onto their under-construction home. In his article, Michael quoted Rabbi Brent Spodek in advising how to cover these types of events: “Rabbi Brent Spodek of the Beacon Hebrew Alliance said he felt it was important for the media to cover anti-Semitic acts but that the focus should not be on whether the suspects are caught. The more important question, he said, is, ‘Where do average people in Nelsonville, Beacon and America stand be in these moments of fear?’ When hate crimes occur, he said, ‘there is no neutral.’ ”
Michael also reported this quote from the Nelsonville Mayor Bill O’Neill: “This hateful vandalism is outrageous and heartbreaking.” According to Michael’s article, the mayor “noted that village residents have expressed revulsion over the incident as well as support for our neighbors who have been subjected to this mindless act.”
According to Brian’s article, Mayor Randy Casale of Beacon said in a “swift” statement after the Beacon postings: “Hate has no place in our community, which is proudly a home to all faiths and backgrounds. This type of behavior will not be tolerated. We are stronger when we work together.”