Talk to focus on hateful writing

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BRATTLEBORO — Reactions to an anti-Semitic message written in chalk on an Elliot Street sidewalk have prompted what organizers call a "community circle of understanding."

"We felt this was a good opportunity to bring people out and to not cast any judgment but to just hear people's thoughts and feelings," said Miriam Dror, who volunteers and is a board member at the Brattleboro Community Justice Center.

Dror said there is no information about how the message — "Toten die Juden," translated from German to mean "kill the Jews" — came to be written last month. Brattleboro Police Capt. Mark Carignan also had no new updates Monday on the incident. The community circle will be held Monday, July 23, at 7 p.m. in the main room of Brooks Memorial Library. Anyone who lives, works or visits the area is encouraged to attend.

"Organizers will be using a restorative circle process where anyone, who wishes, will have an equal opportunity to share their thoughts," a press release says.

The idea for a community circle came about after a discussion between Dror, BCJC Executive Director Mel Motel and Jim Levinson of the Compassionate Community Committee.

"The three of us sat together and said, 'Let's do something,'" said Dror.

She expects to hear from members of the community about the nature and impact of the incident. The act had been condemned on Facebook, and prompted a local business owner to replace the message with drawings of hearts and the word "love" using chalk.

Community circles are nothing new at BCJC. The purpose is not to resolve anything, Dror said, "but just by virtue of hearing voices, there's a deeper community connection."

"It would be wonderful in the person who did it showed up," said Dror. "We never know when we do the circles who is going to come out."

Motel will be facilitating with some questions posed to attendees. Dror said no one will be forced to talk.

The location for the event is wheelchair accessible. For more information, call 802-257-7916.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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