By JENNIFER HILL• Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN –Two weeks after high school boys allegedly attacked another student and shouted homophobic slurs, the Cooperstown Board of Trustees voted in its meeting this morning “unanimously and loudly” to strengthen a 2016 proclamation that the village welcomes people of all backgrounds and does not tolerate acts of bigotry.
“I think it’s important to reiterate how much we in Cooperstown deplore racist and homophobic behavior,” said Richard Sternberg, one of the Trustees who spearheaded the action and vote. “I found it very heartening we did this.”
Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh said, “We had been thinking about updating the 2016 resolution for a while and had conversations in the community about it.” Specifically, Tillapaugh spoke with Francesca Zambello, Artistic and General Director of Glimmerglass Opera when she learned racist and homophobic slurs had been used against people working there in the past.
“The Village was not aware of it at the time,” Tillapaugh said, “because there was no reporting of it.” She did not say when the incidents happened but indicated they were before she was elected mayor in 2018.
Tillapaugh said the plan was for the Board of Trustees to vote on the updated resolution at the June 24 meeting.
She said in addition to the Glimmerglass Opera, Cooperstown’s largest employer, Bassett Health Care, had employees from diverse backgrounds. “We want them to know we are here for them.”
Tillapaugh confirmed Sternberg’s statement that she and the Trustees were working on signage to put up at the entrance into Cooperstown that the Village of Coopertown welcomes people of all backgrounds — ethnic, language, religious, country of origin, LGBTQ, and others. The Trustees were “wordsmithing” the signs’ language right now, she said.
“I’m hoping people will know from the language in the resolution and the signs that we will not allow hateful actions to take place and that we welcome everyone here,” Tillapaugh said. “If people experience hateful rhetoric or acts, we want them to know we have a police force who will follow through on reports of them.”