LEWISBURG — Union County commissioners shared their thoughts Tuesday about recent vandalism which has included racially tinged imagery or words.
The question at the commissioners’ work session followed a call by a major human services advocacy group to denounce the activity. The message posted on Facebook by the Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way (GSVUW) indicated they would lead such an effort but asked for solidarity.
Preston Boop, commissioner chair, described what had been discovered late last week as “certainly inappropriate.”
Commissioner Jeff Reber said symbols including Nazi-style swastikas have no place in Union County.
“Union County is a very welcoming community, actually,” Reber said. “Actions of a few people who are truly not consistent with the rest of the county should not detract from the greatness of Union County. Those things shouldn’t happen.”
Commissioner Stacy Richards agreed that it was a show of intolerance and the county should do better.
“I understand it is limited to a few people who are expressing their views,” Richards said. “The police are investigating but there is no future information.”
Defacing a road sign is a criminal act, Richards observed, but the sense of intolerance expressed by the damage was far more damaging.
State troopers were called the last weekend to a site near Route 192 and Hoffa Mill Road, Buffalo Township after two highway signs were defaced with swastikas. The “twisted cross,” symbolic of Nazi Germany, has since been adopted by some as a symbol of defiance or white supremacy.
The signage attracted a “pop up” protest on Saturday made up of about 20 members of area groups who align themselves against neo-Nazi groups and others with similar sentiments.
Some said remarks disparaging the Black Lives Matter movement were also painted on roadways in the area.
The GSVUW statement was as follows:
“Racist imagery has been painted on streets and signs in rural Union County over the last few days. Hate speech must be taken seriously. Images of swastikas and phrases touting ‘white power’ are threatening to all people of color and people who feel other in our Valley, including allies. (GSVUW) calls on our community leadership, friends, and neighbors to join us in denouncing these actions. Now is not the time to stay silent.”
Hashtags for messages were also given (#NotInOurValley, #liveunited).