New Hampshire town organizes ‘Love in Bloom’ weekend to counter hateful graffiti spree
Love is blooming in Portsmouth as the community counters a hateful graffiti spree with kindness and connection.
The attorney general’s office and local police are investigating after 15 downtown sites were marked Tuesday with swastikas and other symbols. The targets included a synagogue, minority-owned businesses and storefronts with rainbow flags supporting the LGBTQ community.
In response, local nonprofit groups and city officials organized “Love in Bloom,” a weekend aimed at highlighting hope instead of hate. On Friday, residents were encouraged to pick up fresh flowers from a coffee shop that was among the vandalized buildings and distribute the blooms to the other 14 locations.
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Assistant Mayor Joanna Kelley, who owns the café, said the goal was to outshine hate by being more vocal than the perpetrators.
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“We know that silence doesn’t work,” Kelley said, according to the Portsmouth Herald. “They’re proud of who they are. They’re proud of their mentality, their thoughts. They marched loudly in our streets and we feel that we have to be louder than they are.”
Temple Israel, which was among the sites targeted, invited the public to an hourlong interfaith “Community Gathering for Love” on Sunday afternoon. Organizers encouraged participants to share thoughts, music, song and prayer.
“Together we will weave an energetic quilt of love and friendship,” they said.