Introducing the Mayor’s Anti-Hate Advisory Council

I delivered the following remarks while announcing the creation of the Mayor’s Anti-Hate Advisory Council.

Dallas is a welcoming city, one that embraces its diversity and works to overcome the racial and economic divisions sowed by generations that have long past.

Over my lifetime, I’ve seen the incredible progress we have made in unifying this city. We’re far from perfect, but it’s clear we understand each other better now than we did 10, 20, 30 years ago. We have not been afraid to acknowledge the problems we face. We’re defined now not by our divisions, but by our idealism and our drive to make Dallas better for all of our residents.

But we face some headwinds that threaten to stymie that progress. Because in today’s world, it has become too easy to hate.

The derisive and divisive rhetoric of some of the loudest voices in our society has allowed hate to foment among their followers. The echo chambers of social media and online forums provide the cloak of anonymity. And words and hate travel faster and farther than ever before. Thumbs, sadly, move faster than minds and hearts can open.

This spread of hatred has manifested in a 42 percent increase in hate crimes since 2014, according to newly released federal data. And as a top 10 city in this country, Dallas is a microcosm of the nation.

Last year, in fact, our police department reported an increase in hate crimes here in Dallas.

While these crimes are still relatively few in number, they are disproportionately impactful to our city’s psyche and on the quality of life of our residents.

We cannot afford to ignore or downplay hate. Nobody should feel uncomfortable or unsafe in Dallas because of who they are, because of their race or ethnicity, their sexual and gender identities, their religion, or their national origin.

In Dallas, we must be proactive. We must be willing to do the hard work of learning to love and understand each other and to respect our differences. We’ve made some progress in my short time as mayor. We placed an unprecedented emphasis on diversity when making my board and commission appointments. We’ve issued proclamations discouraging hate and encouraging diversity, including in our business community. And we’ve facilitated conversations about race and policing.

Today, we are taking this effort a step further by announcing the formation of the Mayor’s Anti-Hate Advisory Council. This group of distinguished leaders of our faith institutions and of our communities will be responsible for helping advise me and our police department on ways our city can respond to new threats and old prejudices, help facilitate meaningful dialogue between people, and to increase tolerance and understanding in Dallas.

I will also ask them to push our private sector and our communities to engage in this battle and to help people in our city better understand one another.

In all, we have 16 people serving on this advisory council. I have asked four of them to serve as my co-chairs to help shape the direction of this important advisory council. They are graciously joining us today.

Sherry Goldberg, who chairs the community security initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. Gary Sanchez, who chairs the North Texas LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Sanjiv Yajnik, president of Financial Services at CapitalOne. And Sammie Berry, minister at Dallas West Church of Christ and Chairman of the Dallas Area Preachers and Church Leaders.

You will hear from them in just a moment. But first, I want to close by saying combating hate is not just the job of 16 people or the four co-chairs. This is all of our responsibility. We can all set a tone for ourselves. We can all be kinder and more compassionate to one another. And we can all work to ensure that hate finds no haven in our city.

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News, speeches, statements, and other information from the Office of Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson

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Mayor Eric Johnson

Mayor Eric Johnson

Official account of Eric Johnson, the 60th mayor of Dallas, Texas.

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