In an atmosphere where celebrities are coming forward and apologizing for sending messages of intolerance, one South Bay High School served as a launching pad for a new campaign against hate.
The No Place for Hate campaign, designed by the Anti-Defamation League to combat hate and prejudice in schools, was kicked off Monday at Southwest High School in Chula Vista.
The initiative aims to reduce bias, bullying and name calling but instead encourage students to work together, to appreciate diversity and foster harmony.
Southwest High School students Fernando Tarrachong and Paulina Vacquez traveled to Washington, D.C. where they met with students from around the country.
“Small comments can affect people so much,” said Tarrachong. “They build up the pyramid of hate.”
“They may be playing around but it comes to a point where it does hurt,” Vacquez said.
Among the lessons they brought back to the school, to step up and speak up.
California Assemblyman Ben Hueso presented a proclamation to the school declaring February 2012 as a "No Place for Hate" month telling the students, “Hatred never builds anything. It destroys people that hate and the people that are hated.”
Students also viewed part of the documentary “Not in Our Town; Light in the Darkness.”
The film highlights the community of Patchogue, New York and how citizens there took action to stop the hate after a series of attacks against the Latino residents which culminated in the murder of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant.
Four months after the murder Mayor Paul Pontieri led village leaders to pass a resolution that anti-immigrant rhetoric is harmful saying "thoughtful discourse can only occur in an environment free of hatred and vilification.
Pontieri will attend a screening of the documentary and answer questions at UC San Diego Monday at 5:45 p.m.