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Hundreds push for peace at Walk Against Hate in Las Vegas

A day after a shooting at a San Diego synagogue left a woman dead three other people injured, and six months after a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh took 11 lives, hundreds of people in Las Vegas donned yellow shirts emblazoned with “I walked against hate.”

The Anti-Defamation League’s third annual Walk Against Hate at Springs Preserve served as “a day of healing,” according to event organizer Jolie Brislin. She called the timing of Sunday’s walk to promote peace a “beautiful coincidence.”

“When we’re seeing the rise of anti-Semitism happening around the world, when we’re seeing hate and bigotry becoming part of our daily conversations … There is no better time for our community to come together and to speak out with one another and to say that this is not OK,” Brislin said.

Jeremiah Salzman, 36, has walked in the event each of the past three years with his son, Lucas, 8, and daughter, Amelia, 6. The kids go to a No Place for Hate school, Beatty Elementary, which follows an ADL program to provide anti-bullying training and prevention activities.

Jeremiah Salzman said the school has a zero-tolerance policy on bullying and teaches students to talk about their differences without using negative words or actions.

“I don’t think that kids are born hating. I think that they learn hate from adults,” Salzman said. “But at the same time, I also think they learn from adults what it means to not hate.”

The ADL’s mission is “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all,” according to its website. More than 1,600 in the U.S. participate in the No Place for Hate program.

Salzman said he strives to teach his kids to treat people as individuals, and to do away with generalizations about race, gender and belief systems.

“And I want my kids to only surround themselves with people who look at hate the same way,” he said. “It’s divisive, it’s a form of evil, and we need to stand up against that, even if it’s just being present and saying it’s not acceptable.”

The ADL plans to spread its message at another Las Vegas Valley school this week, after racist threats were made against black Arbor View High School students this month on social media. Two teen boys pleaded guilty to making the threats.

The ADL will conduct anti-bias training for Arbor View administrators, teachers and support staff and will host a program to teach parents what to look for and how to talk to their children about bias and bullying.

U.S. Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev., lauded the ADL for its efforts to educate people “on how bigotry rears its head in our community.”

“Being out here participating in the Walk Against Hate, especially today, after yet again another shooting in a place of worship in a synagogue in San Diego, it’s so important that we understand that this fight against intolerance and hatred starts right here in our own homes and in our own communities,” Lee said. “We say that diversity is our strength, but unity is our power, so making sure that we are unified in this fight against hate is so important.”

Las Vegas police officers increased their presence at places of worship throughout the valley Sunday in response to Saturday’s shooting, Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Chris Holmes said. Holmes encouraged people to say something if they see something.

“We take these matters very serious and work hard to ensure tragedies like what (occurred) yesterday do not happen here,” Holmes said.

Contact Kimber Laux at klaux@reviewjournal.com. Follow @lauxkimber on Twitter.

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