What Does It Mean To Say "Not In Our Town"?

On September 26, 1993, three white men entered the African Methodist Episcopal Wayman Chapel and stood against the back wall with arms folded. They had come to intimidate the predominantly African American congregation, not to pray. When members of other congregations heard about the incident, they began to attend services at the church. The Reverend Bob Freeman said of their presence, "Denominations didn't count, ethnic background didn't count, color of skin didn't count. It was just that we were one people all together as one."

Two weeks later, Dawn Fast Horse, a Native American and the mother of several small children, discovered that someone had spray-painted her house with a swastika and racial slurs. Sarah Anthony of the Human Rights Commission asked Bob Maxwell of the Painters Union 1922 for help. He immediately rounded up 30 volunteers, including Gary Modie. Modie later said:

"So many times there is a cause and I end up staying on the sidelines. I feel something but I never really did anything about anything. I was glad to paint the house and more so to convey a message to these guys that the community will not stand for that."

On December 10, 1993, just a week after the attack on the Schnitzers, Jews in Billings celebrated the first night of Chanukah. At sunset, over 200 Christians joined their Jewish neighbors in the parking lot of Congregation Beth Aaron. Rabbi Samuel Cohon lit a menorah and said a blessing. He then told the crowd that the lights symbolized the human spirit, which cannot be stifled. He also reminded them of the words of Edmund Burke, a British statesman: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

"If it’s wrong for it to happen to me. It’s wrong for it to happen to my neighbors."

Margaret MacDonald, the executive director of the Montana Association of Churches, came up with the idea of putting up the paper menorahs. She thought it would be a "simple thing" for people to do. Yet when she went to hang the menorah in her own window, she had second thoughts:

"With two young children, I had to think hard about it myself. We put our menorah in a living room window, and made sure nobody sat in front of it."

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