For several months over the summer of 2020, residents of Gardiner have been using social media to report handbills being plastered up overnight in various locations promoting the neo-Nazi white supremacist group Patriot Front. Photographs were posted on Facebook showing these signs on the Route 44/55 bridge spanning the Wallkill River and on utility poles at Majestic Park.
Some angered Gardinerites tore down the signs at once. What else they could do about politically inflammatory vandalism, in a town that doesn’t have its own police force? To whom does one report such incidents? And whose job is it to coordinate such reporting?
Councilmember Laura Walls proposed the town board create an unpaid position for an “ambassador for peace and justice,” who would serve as a point person for monitoring and reporting activity that incites hate crimes.
A resolution establishing the position and defining its roles, which may also include developing educational programming for the town, was passed unanimously by the board at its September 8 meeting. Councilman David Dukler was appointed to fill it.