Interactive Anti-Hate Installation in Nation’s Capital Depicts Need for Reform
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and family members of hate crimes victims convened Tuesday, November 19, at Columbus Circle at Union Station to show solidarity with and demand action for victims and survivors of hate crimes throughout the country. An interactive flower mural by artist Nikkolas Smith invites passersby to participate in revealing a powerful message, ultimately demanding that Congress pass the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act.
The creative activation, emblematic of vigils held in the wake of an increasing number of acts of hate violence, sheds light on the need for comprehensive reform to combat white supremacist violence and bigotry. Each flower picked has a coinciding advocacy message for those who interact with the mural and feel inspired to take action.
“Every person deserves to live in this country free from hate and bigotry,” said Ashley Allison, executive vice president of campaigns and programs at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “This means we must build communities across the country to support every person, no matter who they are. But to make this possible, Congress must do their part and pass the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act to protect and empower communities fighting hate.”
“As a black man from the south, I’ve seen up close the despicable effects of racism, and part of my mission in life is now to create art that speaks against injustice and hate,” said Nikkolas Smith, concept artist and creator of the #LoveGrowsHere mural. “So, when I heard that there was a need for an anti-hate art installation, I was very eager to contribute. I want to show the world that we’re a lot more alike than we are different, and that ultimately love will win.”
“When I look at this mural, I am reminded that hate doesn’t win – love always wins,” said Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer and co-founder of the Heather Heyer Foundation. “If you don’t have an accurate account of what is happening in regard to hate crimes, you can’t have the right prescription. Congress need to pass the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act.”
“While our constant prayer is that no person or family experiences the pain and terror of a hate crime, this mural encompasses what we see play out in communities across the country and the world – that love grows where hate once was and always prevails. Matthew, James, Heather, and Khalid all embodied love,” said Haifa Jabara, mother of Khalid Jabara and co-founder of the Khalid Jabara Foundation.
Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard and president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, said: “What a wonderful symbol. Matt would love it! Flowers have always represented peace, respect, and acceptance. This is a perfect way to say, ‘Stop the Hate!’”
Ten years ago, Congress passed the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the most pivotal legislation addressing hate of its time. To combat all the forms of hate that exist today, we must strengthen our laws to properly address how hate crimes have evolved and expanded. The Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act is bipartisan and bicameral legislation that would improve federal reporting of hate crimes to prevent similar omissions and strengthen police responses to incidents of hate. Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer, after whom the bill was named, were both killed by men who were prosecuted for hate crimes, yet their murders were not counted as such with the FBI.
Follow the hashtag #LoveGrowsHere to join the conversation and view the mural on all major social media platforms. For more information about The Leadership Conference’s work in fighting hate and bigotry, please visit https://civilrights.org/fighting-hate-bias/.