‘Neighbor towards neighbor’: Dedham library Christmas tree ban sparks public consternation


“This habits will not be a real reflection of our dedication to guide with kindness and civility.”

The choice to not show a Christmas tree in a Dedham public library this vacation season has sparked a slew of on-line threats and intimidation, the city stated on Thursday.

Metropolis officers condemned the vitriol in a press release, writing that the difficulty has now pitted the group towards itself.

“The Metropolis of Dedham stands with all Metropolis workers who’ve been subjected to current on-line threats and intimidation. Sadly, a current social media publish expressing disagreement with the choice to show a Christmas tree within the library has rapidly turn into a polarizing setting and has led to harassment and intimidation of metropolis staff,” it reads. within the Metropolis of Dedham launch. “We wholeheartedly condemn this habits because it tears on the material of our group and can’t be tolerated.

“We proceed to encourage constructive conversations and wholesome debates, however on account of social media and out of doors sources, what may have been reputable speech turned neighbor towards neighbor, and has threatened the security and well-being of group members and workers. ”, he stated, the assertion continues. “This habits will not be a real reflection of our dedication to guide with kindness and civility.”

The controversy first erupted when Lisa Desmond, supervisor of the library’s Endicott department, conscious concerning the tree’s absence on Fb on December 2 after being informed the ornament wouldn’t be on show this 12 months as a result of “individuals have been uncomfortable it final 12 months,” he wrote.

“Sorry what? In my 28 years on the Dedham Public Library, I’ve by no means heard a damaging remark,” Desmond wrote. “We have now celebrated and included everybody in our group.”

Desmond saying WBZ NewsRadio was knowledgeable of the choice by the library director.

“It’s about group, love and unity. In order to not exclude anybody. The choice was made as an alternative of placing heads collectively; we will name it a ‘seasonal tree,’ we will name it no matter you need,” Desmond informed the station.

Her social media publish quickly caught on on-line — it was shared greater than 237 instances as of Thursday — and rapidly sparked sturdy reactions from commenters, with many individuals voicing their assist for holding the tree.

However Desmond additionally confronted backlash to his publish.

“I used to be really put in a class with murderers, that was in all probability the bottom level I’ve ever had,” Desmond informed WBZ.

A few of the criticism got here from a member of the city’s Human Rights Committee, who, based on one other Desmond publish on TuesdayHe made an extended, expletive-filled publish alleging that Desmond “put individuals’s lives at risk.”

Desmond wrote that he contacted the police in response. The Human Rights Fee stated On Tuesday, the member, Diane Loud, had resigned from her place.

Loud couldn’t be reached for remark Thursday.

Within the metropolis assertion, officers acknowledged “the varied views” they’ve heard from residents, however didn’t say whether or not the outpouring of criticism adjustments the no-trees coverage.

“Group engagement and public dialogue are cornerstones of native authorities, and we encourage our residents to take part in our open and constructive dialogues,” the assertion learn. “We sit up for continued public engagement and alternatives to work collectively towards shared objectives. We try to make Dedham a welcoming group for all, the place variations will be celebrated, not attacked.”

Earlier this week, Desmond requested residents to think about elevating the difficulty with the Library’s Board of Trustees. The subsequent board assembly is scheduled for Tuesday night time.

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