Dan Broghammer was outside his Davenport home over the weekend when a neighbor walked over with a flyer he found in a plastic bag in his yard. Featuring a photo of a white girl and the headline, "We love your race," it bore the name of the National Alliance, a white supremacist group based in Tennessee.
Both men were disturbed at finding the flyer and others like it blowing around their neighborhood. "It's ridiculous," Broghammer said. "It's because Trump is president, I think. We didn't have this crap before."
Members of a group called One Human Family QCA believe the Quad-Cities is being targeted for recruitment by the National Alliances and, to counter this effort and to explore why people hate, are sponsoring a symposium on Saturday titled "Hate: We Shall Overcome."
The event will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1330 13th St., Moline.
Frank Meeink, a one-time neo-Nazi skinhead who has renounced those beliefs, will be the keynote speaker.
Now living in Des Moines, Meeink will explain how growing up in an abusive home in Philadelphia left him isolated and angry and vulnerable to indoctrination by a gang of skinheads.
Meeink began his turnaround in prison where he became friends with the very people he used to hate. He chronicled his story in "Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead," and now travels the country speaking about his experiences.
He also is the founder of an organization called Harmony through Hockey, which promotes racial tolerance among children and cultivates teamwork and respect, both on and off the ice.
The Rev. Rich Hendricks, pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of the Quad-Cities and a founder of One Human Family, said Meeink's story is a textbook example of how people become haters. They are disaffected and isolated, so when someone comes along to say that all their problems are being caused by a certain group of other people, they begin blaming that other group and, eventually, hating them.
Through presentations and exercises, the symposium also aims to give participants the tools they need to turn back hate when they encounter it, and to establish relationships with people from diverse backgrounds.
After the keynote address, participants will be invited to attend three of five breakout sessions, with breaks and a box lunch. The sessions are:
• Unlearning white supremacy, conducted by Sara Barron and Latasha DeLoach, both of Iowa City.
Barron, a Davenport native who now is executive director of the Johnson County Affordable Housing Coalition, said that it is easy to identify white supremacy when it comes in a flyer.
"What is more difficult is recognizing how everyone who grows up in the United States grows up with some of those same ideas," she said. "It is implicit in our culture."
She will discuss, for example, how white parents talk to their white children about race. While telling a child that color doesn't matter "comes from a good place," it might also teach that race doesn't matter when it clearly does matter when one looks at poverty levels or prison populations, she said.
Race often determines what opportunities are open to a person or how they are treated, which then can affect how they do in life, she said.
• Ouch! Training conducted by Bob Babcock, a member of One Human Family, who will discuss how to respectfully and successfully confront hate speech and stereotypes.
Hearing something hateful, people feel uncomfortable but don't know what to say, so they often say nothing, Babcock said. This silence tends to embolden the other person, who then feels empowered to say more of the same.
Babcock will present vignettes and possible responses. "The intent is to provide the skills and tools to turn around the Quad-Cities, to be a more welcoming community instead of apparently being ripe for the recruiting of hate groups," he said.
• Getting to know your neighbor, by Rev. Hendricks and Dr. Lisa Killinger, of the Muslim Community of the Quad-Cities.
This participatory session will allow participants to practice talking to people of diverse backgrounds. There will be demonstrations and pairing off.
Recognizing another person's humanity and accepting another person for what they are and where they are doesn't mean condoning all their attitudes or actions, Hendricks said.
But this isn't the same as saying, "Love the sinner, hate the sin," Hendricks said. "I hate that expression," he said. The reason is that "it implies judgment."
@ Child abuse and hate, by Brooke Hendricks of the Child Abuse Council of the Quad-Cities. She will discuss how prevention tactics can reduce the incidence of extremist behavior.
@ Alt-right hate on the college campus, by Shay DeGolier, community outreach organizer for the Southern Poverty Law Center.
She will talk about effective ways students can counter hate speech without infringing on another person's First Amendment right to free speech. These include forums and peaceful protests.
The center is a nonprofit legal advocacy organization founded in 1971 and specializing in civil rights and public interest litigation. It is based in Montgomery, Alabama.