NORTH PARK — In the wake of last week's election of Donald Trump as president, people are severing ties with family and friends over politics, and fears are mounting for the safety of members of minority groups.
A group of North Park neighbors has stepped into this breach with a simple message to help bridge the divide: "Hate Has No Home Here."
"The lessons of history are crystal clear," said resident Kurt Peterson. "All you need for this national mood to spark into something murderous and destructive ... something will light it."
The president-elect has yet to officially take office, and already incidents of hate are being perpetrated in Trump's name, including homophobic messages aimed at a North Park University student.
"There was a desire to reach out to my neighbors ... that hate doesn't speak for us," said Peterson. "My home can be your home."
The slogan is being printed on posters and yard signs, with nearly 1,000 total requested by neighbors — and people as far flung as Ecuador and Sweden — after the idea spread on social media.
"The signs are a way to start conversations," said Barbara Nordlund, one of a half-dozen North Park residents who spurred the campaign.
"This is a very small way," she conceded. "It's not fixing anything."
Steven Velez Luce created the artwork, which includes an American flag wrapped inside a heart, and has made the design available for free to anyone who wants to use the image.
A GoFundMe page has raised nearly $3,000 since Sunday to help defray the cost of printing the signs, which members of the ad hoc "No Hate" group will distribute to North Park residents (those outside the neighborhood are asked to pick up their order).
"People are latching onto it," said Megan Trinter, a member of the organizing group. "People want to do something."
The intent of the message, printed in languages including Arabic and Urdu, is to signal that all are welcome in North Park, a notably diverse neighborhood with residents of "all ages, races and religions" who "speak different languages, have all kinds of families and identities, share varied interests and abilities," as the GoFundMe page states.
Though the idea behind the campaign was sparked by the election of Donald Trump — whose campaign rhetoric included slurs against several minority groups — the signs are notably printed in both red and blue, colors that have come to be associated with specific political parties.
"I took a red one," said staunch progressive Carmen Rodriguez. "I wanted it to be very clear ... it's supposed to bridge every divide. Hate has no home here, no matter what. We can talk, we can still be neighbors."
Originally specific to North Park, the campaign quickly spread to other neighborhoods.
Catherine Korda, who teaches child advocacy at Northeastern Illinois University, said "almost all" of her students had requested signs "and they live all over the city."
The hastily organized group is now contemplating next steps.
"What are we all committed to?" Rodriguez asked. "I don't know that question's been answered."
A toolkit for other communities is one idea being bandied about, as is creating a more formal movement that could translate the campaign's words into deeds.
Ultimately "Hate Has No Home Here" is a daily challenge, Nordlund said.
"I have to act on that all the time," she said.
To request a poster or yard sign, click here.
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