Downtown Madison Inc. and its more than 1,700 members are invested in the Madison community and call it our home. We are compelled to speak out against the act of hate that this community experienced on Sept. 20, when anti-Semitic graffiti was sprayed on a stone marker in James Madison Park.

Throughout our nation’s, state’s and city’s history, when acts of hate targeting specific groups have occurred, too often we have left it to those who are the targets of that hatred to advocate for themselves. We have left them on their own, perhaps giving the impression that we do not find such acts of intolerance to be misguided, inappropriate, unwelcome and intolerable.

It is therefore critical for the larger community, including the business community, to speak up now with a unified voice to send the very clear and unmistakable message that the hateful graffiti on the stone marker adjacent to the Gates of Heaven building in James Madison Park was an abhorrent act of hate. It is unacceptable, and we will not tolerate it in this community.

If we as a people and as a community do not speak out against such acts and expressions of hate, we do a disservice to the values of our nation, our state and our community. Especially at a time of such divisiveness in our country and our state, it is important for us all to recognize the true meaning and importance of our shared community, and the acceptance and inclusion of each and every one of us in it.

In the wake of events such as this, we must care for one another by standing together to send a clear message that we will not tolerate any acts in our community that seek to vilify, belittle or alienate our fellow community members.

Schmitz is president of Downtown Madison Inc.: www.downtownmadison.org. Madison’s Central Business Improvement District, the Latino Chamber of Commerce, the Urban League of Greater Madison, Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau, Centro Hispano, the YWCA Madison, 100 Black Men of Madison, Ho-Chunk Nation and the Madison City Council signed onto this column in support.

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