JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two Jacksonville organizations paired together Thursday to take a stand against hate in the community.
The Jewish Community Alliance (JCA) and First Coast YMCA held an event called “Together Against Hate” to cover issues concerning prejudices against religion, race, LGBTQ+ and other communities.
JCA CEO Adam Chaskin said the antisemitic messages that were displayed at the Florida-Georgia game last year brought the two organizations together.
“That lead to us bringing our staffs together to brainstorm how we can best try to educate people about the differences that we have and break down some of those barriers,” he said.
Despite being different organizations, both share the same mission to help improve the community and bring everyone together.
Just two weeks ago, a racially motivated mass shooting took the lives of three people at a Dollar General in New Town. Chaskin said the education they want to provide is needed now more than ever.
“Unfortunately, it just reinforces the need to do this and it was obviously a racially motivated hate crime and then to add on to that the person had a swastika which is another form of hate carved into the weapon that was used,” Chaskin said.
Ericia Moore, Vice President of Social Responsibility and Operations for First Coast YMCA said the Dollar General shooting was personal to her because she works and lives in that community.
“It’s an opportunity for us to come together and figure out how the YMCA can continue to have a safe space specifically on the northside but also throughout Northeast Florida,” Moore said.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, reported hate crimes increased from 2020 to 2021 by 11%. That data shows hate crimes rose 14% against Black people, 20% for Jewish people, 70% for the LGBTQ community, and 167% for Asian people.
Even though there is a rise in hate crimes, there’s also a great interest in educating the community about those prejudices.
“It’s telling us that people really want to start having these conversations but they may not absolutely have the ability to do so, or the safe places to have these conversations, so the fact that it’s full tells us there’s a greater need for these conversations,” Moore said.
There are four more events planned through January for the “Together Against Hate” speaker series. The next event will be on October 10 at Friday Musicale.