Amid outrage over racist and homophobic allegations, Danvers prays for healing

“Children learn what they’re going through – it doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” she said. “They’re learning it somewhere, so it’s up to us as adults to determine where that comes from as well. It’s not just about children. It’s about how we are with each other.

The 45-minute vigil, organized by the Danvers Human Rights and Inclusion Committee and the Danvers Interfaith Partnership, followed weeks of intense public scrutiny of the response of Danvers school leaders to reports of hazing by the Danvers High School boys’ hockey team in the 19-20 season, and the discovery of swastikas in college washrooms in the past two weeks.

Dr Dutrochet Djoko, chairman of the Danvers Human Rights and Inclusion Committee, urged the public to use “this inclusion eve” as a first step towards the “Danvers of tomorrow”.

“It’s going to be a trip,” he said. “It’s not going to be fixed overnight, it’s not going to be fixed tomorrow, because it didn’t start overnight and it didn’t start yesterday. So it’s going to take time and hard work, and it will be uncomfortable at times. “

“And one more thing,” he said. “We haven’t seen the last incident.”

Participants were bundled up in winter coats and knit hats on a cold November evening. Some held small candles that lit up their faces at nightfall. Others sat on benches, listening quietly as religious leaders prayed and spoke of the need for respect and inclusion.

“I think everyone who is here tonight, we are all standing up for love and compassionate action,” said Rabbi Alison Adler of B’nai Abraham Temple in Beverly. “But I ask you not to leave once the news cycle changes and we move on. Educate, read, talk and think outside the box, but also ask: how are our black, gay and gay kids doing. How are all our children in the midst of this?

State Senator Joan Lovely and State Representative Sally Kerans stood alongside the clergy in the gazebo. In the crowd stood a few policemen from Danvers, including Chief James Lovell.

Lovely and Kerans each expressed their gratitude to the leaders who organized the vigil and the community members who showed up.

“My deepest hope is that the children who have been through this (…) will know that we are here and that we hold them in our hearts,” said Kerans, a resident of Danvers. “We hear them, and the community will hold them close to us. “

The vigil closed a troubling week for Danvers public schools.

Students at Holten-Richmond Middle School found the swastika in a bathroom Thursday and reported it to school officials, Superintendent Lisa Dana said in a letter to the school community.

It was the second time that the Nazi symbol had been found in a school toilet. The first case was reported on November 9. Police are investigating the incidents, officials said.

John Ferraro, who was present with his wife and two children, both in elementary school, said parents have a responsibility to talk to their children about respecting all races.

“I think there just needs to be a dialogue, [because] I know a lot of times kids don’t really know what they’re saying, they don’t know what a swastika or a lynching means or things like that, especially in middle school, ”said Ferraro, who is Jewish. . “I think it’s our job as parents to educate our kids about this and I hope they make the right decisions.”

The second swastika was found two days after Dana and the Danvers school committee issued a statement acknowledging that they had “failed” in their public response to allegations involving the boys’ varsity hockey team at the Danvers Secondary School.

The incidents involving the hockey team emerged following a report from The Globe on November 6 which detailed allegations by a former player in a locker room environment of violent, racist and homophobic misconduct, as well as a effort by school officials to conceal the results of the investigations from the team from the public.

Jen St. Arneault, who attended Danvers High School in the early 1990s, said principals must improve the public’s response to misconduct or the offensive behavior could continue.

“The fact that there was no transparency, that there were no visible repercussions … it gives [students] a climbing permit, ”said St. Arneault, who attended the vigil with a former classmate.

Annlauren Djoko, a 17-year-old at Danvers High School, said she was shocked to hear about the hockey team’s locker room culture and didn’t want to blame it all on the students.

“The root cause of all of this is ignorance,” she said. “I don’t think they inherently try to make other people feel bad or feel like they belong. But because of this ignorance there, they don’t understand the [weight] of what they say.

Nick Stoico can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @NickStoico.

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