Robert Gold – Cape Cod Times
HYANNIS ? Hundreds of people rallied this week against what the police are calling a hate crime at the nearby Chabad Jewish Center last week.
Local residents and religious leaders filled Barnstable High School’s Knight Auditorium last night, vowing to unite against bigotry while promoting togetherness.
“Barnstable is no place for hate,” said Barnstable Town Council president Frederick Chirigotis, drawing heavy applause from the crowd.
Last Wednesday, police arrested three juveniles for allegedly breaking into the Jewish center on West Main Street in Hyannis.
The suspects face charges of breaking and entering, larceny of a building, willful injury to a church and committing property damage for the purpose of intimidation based on religion. The building was damaged, religious items were strewn across the floor and hateful images were downloaded to a computer in the facility.
Last night, Barnstable police Chief Paul MacDonald said 43 images of Hitler, Nazi swastikas and pictures of Holocaust victims were downloaded to the computer.
MacDonald said “the entire town of Barnstable is a victim” of the alleged hate crime.
A wide mix of area residents, students and religious and social group members attended the rally, along with town, political and school officials. The event included several representatives from different faiths.
Speakers at the event urged those in attendance to spread positive behavior. They reminded each other to reject bigotry. They offered their support to members of the Chabad Jewish Center, including its director, Rabbi Yekusiel Alperowitz.
Alperowitz thanked the community for its “overwhelming outpouring of support.” He said each person in the room and the community should focus their energies on positive contributions.
“We each have a set role and positive purpose,” he said.
Blake Blaze, senior class president at Barnstable High School, said students were sickened by the crime. He urged community members to “combat ignorance in all its forms.”
Jennifer Smith, assistant regional director of the Anti-Defamation League New England, applauded the audience for its unity. “You are truly closing the gaps so hate does not have a place,” she said.
After the rally, organizers handed out candles and the crowd gathered around the school and the Jewish center.
Receiving her candle, Cotuit resident Michelle Magee said she and her husband, Michael, had to come to show solidarity with the Jewish center and the wider community.
“It just fills your heart with hope and love,” she said of the rally