Our nation can no longer tolerate hate speech and must instead embrace inclusiveness (letter) | VailDaily.com

Our nation can no longer tolerate hate speech and must instead embrace inclusiveness (letter)

On Friday, Nov. 2, the B'nai Vail congregation held a memorial service under the leadership of Rabbi Joel Newman for those who tragically lost their lives in Pittsburgh. I was invited to speak, and afterwards, the interdenominational attendees encouraged me to publish my comments from the service:

It is an honor to be here to represent Eagle County law enforcement at this service tonight. It is a difficult time for our country after the horrific Tree of Life Synagogue incident. We mourn for the precious lives that were lost that day, and we pray for the recovery of those who were wounded. We salute the courage of the law enforcement officers and other first responders who prevented the further loss of life.

This Vail Interfaith Chapel is a symbol and foundation of our faith-based inclusiveness as a community and how those values have given this community strength to come together during good times and bad.

Sometimes here in Happy Valley, we aren't impacted by incidents that happen on the national level. Not so for this incident. This is the deadliest attack on Jewish people in our country's history — the deadliest attack. Four officers were wounded responding to the attacker. It makes us all take a retrospective look at ourselves, our community and our nation.

Our nation can no longer tolerate hate speech without confronting those who speak out against people because of their race, religion, immigration status or sexual orientation. Our First Amendment protects our freedom of speech but does not require us to sit by quietly and not confront hate. Our community is healthy, but we must be vigilant to set aside our differences and work together on problem solving and building positive legislative processes.

Eagle County law enforcement has good relations with our formal religious community here, as witnessed by our collaborative handling of the Westboro Baptist Church members who visited this past year.

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We welcome all and support everyone in our community. Hate crimes, harassment and other illegal activities will always be taken seriously by our law enforcement officers and deputies. We are here to protect everyone in our community, no matter your background or religion.

Dwight Henninger

Chief of police, town of Vail