I would like to acknowledge the tragedy, fear and anger that our country and our community have endured this week.
The targeted racist attack on Buffalo’s African-American community last weekend was horrifying. It is yet another tragic and painful reminder for all of us – and most especially for our communities of color – of how deep-seated the specter of racism still is in America.
This tragic event in Buffalo was one of six mass shootings that occurred in our country last weekend. There were five on Sunday. Two more have occurred this week.
Also this week, we have confronted images of hate right here in our own school district, with the Confederate flag on a construction worker’s vehicle outside of Albany High School, and anti-Semitic graffiti in a women’s bathroom at Harriet Gibbons Student Services Center.
According to The New York Times this week, the Anti-Defamation League has registered 450 murders in America over the past decade committed by political extremists. Nearly half of these murders were specifically tied to white supremacists, according to the report.
Acts of violence against African-Americans are on the rise in America. Acts of anti-Semitism are on the rise in America.
As we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this month, we also do so knowing that acts of violence against these groups have risen dramatically in recent years as well.
I would like to emphatically repeat the message we shared with our school community earlier this week – hate in any form is unacceptable, and we will not tolerate it in our school community.
I would like to thank and commend the students and employees who brought these symbols of hate to our attention this week. With that information, we acted immediately to have them removed, and we will continue to do so whenever these matters are reported in our school community.
At Albany High School, we have reviewed our security and building entry procedures for the members of our construction team this week. We will continue our practice of having the workers enter the building through one entrance. Our security teams will review and enhance procedures as needed to ensure the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff.
We are proud to have one school in our district that has earned the Anti-Defamation League’s No Place for Hate certification – Albany High School. We also will begin the process to seek to expand No Place for Hate programming in our district.
We would like to share the following additional resources from the ADL:
- The Horrific Mass Shooting in Buffalo: How to Talk with Young People
- Empowering Young People in the Aftermath of Hate
- Helping Students Make Sense of News Stories about Bias and Injustice
- Table Talk: Gun Violence and Mass Shootings
- Table Talk: Propaganda, Extremism and Online Recruitment Tactics
- Lesson Plan: The Alt-Right and White Supremacy
We continue to urge all employees, students, families and community members to report hate messaging immediately. This is critical in our efforts to document and investigate these occurrences with our law enforcement partners, and to hold the responsible individuals accountable.
I also would like to acknowledge the partnership and support we have received this week from:
- Chief Eric Hawkins and the Albany Police Department
- Albany County District Attorney David Soares
- Turner Construction Vice President and General Manager Carl Stewart and his team on our Albany High project
- Greater Capital Region Building Trades President Michael Lyons, and
- Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York President and CEO Robert Kovach, and Director of Community Relations Shelly Shapiro
As they always do, our partners stood shoulder to shoulder with us to meet the challenges we encountered this week. We are grateful for that support, as well as their guidance and counsel.
Please remember – if you see something, say something, and please do so right away.
Yours in education,
Kaweeda G. Adams