FLORIDA – Anti-hate signs broadcasting a message of inclusion have been posted across several American states, reflecting a growing discontent with the divisive atmosphere that have followed the 2016 presidential elections.
“With all the election stuff going on last year at this time, I just felt there was so much negativity and there was so much divide among everyone, there were tensions,” Maureen Browne told The Ledger.
“Everything on the news was so hyped and people were being polarized into their right or left and it was exhausting.”
Browne put a placard in her Lakeland, Florida, lawn that reads “Hate Has No Home Here.”
The sign, blue on one side and red on the other, includes a heart symbol containing stars and stripes reflecting the American flag.
The five-word phrase is repeated in a small script in five other languages: Arabic, Urdu, Korean, Hebrew, and Spanish.
She got her sign from St. David’s Episcopal Church in Lakeland, whose rector, Rev. Robert Moses, said he made three orders for the signs since fall.
Over the past months, the “Hate Has No Home Here” campaign, which was suggested by half a dozen friends in a Chicago neighborhood, has become a nonprofit organization and has distributed “easily tens of thousands” of placards, spokeswoman Carmen Rodriguez said.
The five-word phrase was suggested by two children, Rodriguez said, adding that the additional languages reflected ones spoken by residents of the neighborhood.
“There had been a rise in tensions. There had been some comments and conversation that was starting to get noticed and was worrisome. So it wasn’t like this one big thing happened and everybody freaked out; it was just this uptick,” she added.
Though the organization describes itself as non-political, the idea emerged in late stages of 2016 election after the then-Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, was calling for a ban on Muslims entering the country.
“I mean, I think you can’t escape that that was the season,” Rodriguez said. “We’re not walking away from that. But he wasn’t the only person running for president.”
The contingent launched a GoFundMe campaign to cover the costs of producing the first batch of the signs for neighborhood residents.
Browne, 63, said the decision to add the sign has never been political.
“People have asked me what it [the sign] means,” she said, “and I said, ‘I’m just tired of this negativity everywhere,’ and I truly believe in treating people as you would want to be treated — the good old golden rule.”
Spreading their word across the globe, the sign’s creators formed a nonprofit association and made a separate website for the project (www.hatehasnohome.org).
A map on the group’s site shows how far the project has spread in virtually every state as well as Canada, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Egypt, Jordan, Sweden, Holland, Pakistan, South Korea and Australia. Different versions of the yard sign are now available in combinations of more than 50 languages.