“Hate,” said Dan Prinzing, “walked into the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial” in the form of vandals who defaced the site in Downtown Boise in May.
An opposite sentiment was in effect on Thursday when Prinzing, the executive director of the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights, joined state and national leaders to reaffirm the community’s commitment to love and tolerance.
The community, said Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, needs to “stand up to those in power, including the president when he is misguided, as he has been.”
Following the vandalism in May, which police described as a hate crime, Sen. Mike Crapo entered a statement into the Congressional Record that said “kindness, support and respect run deep in Idaho.” The statement also praised those who quickly spoke out against the vandalism and gave money for repairs. Crapo read the statement on Thursday at the memorial.
The donations from the community ranged from students who pooled their lunch money and gave a $61 donation, to a woman who came in person to give $5, telling Wassmuth Center staffers that “this is my community,” to the donors who gave checks for $20,000. Donations now total more than $65,000, said Prinzing.
Idaho Sens. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, and Chuck Winder, R-Boise, Rep. Hy Kloc, D-Boise also spoke at the ceremony.
Buckner-Webb asked for her fellow lawmakers to speak out against the vandalism immediately after the attacks. Several senators and representatives of both parties, including Winder, joined her and signed their names to a bi-partisan statement condemning the vandalism.
Many in the audience on Thursday came armed with umbrellas as a light rain fell. They carried signs hand-lettered with slogans.
Boisean Paul Bohl carried a sign with a quote from Thomas Jefferson: “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.”
Bohl was happy, he said, to see so many local leaders speak at the ceremony.
He had been saddened, he said, to learn about the vandalism at the memorial, especially in light of vandalism in recent months at other Boise sites.
In December, someone wrote a racist slur in the snow on the roof of a storage shed at the Black History Museum. Two months earlier, a Black Lives Matter homecoming float created by a Boise State University student group was damaged by vandals.
“We all need more education. We need to speak to people on the other side. I understand people’s frustrations. But we need to understand that the United States wasn’t built on bigotry,” said Bohl.
Idaho remains the sole state in the union with a human rights memorial.
“It was built with love. It will be repaired with love,” Prinzing told the audience Thursday. “We’re coming back bigger, better and louder.”