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Message on T-Shirts Causing Concern In Dobbs Ferry

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September 10, 2020

By Robert Kimmel–

The “Welcome to Dobbs Ferry” emblazoned on the front of T-shirts left anonymously at the homes of three Black families in Dobbs Ferry didn’t foretell the full message that the shirts conveyed. On their backs was a longer message, which, while claiming otherwise, was racist in tone.  The incidents have angered and upset many residents of the village.

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“You came here from there because you didn’t like there, and now you want to change here to be like there. We are not racist, phobic, or anti whatever-you-are, we simply like here the way it is and many of us were actually born here and stayed because it is not like there, wherever there was,” the T-shirt reads. “You are welcome here with open arms! But please stop trying to make here like there. If you want here to be like there, you should not have left there to come here. Please love Dobbs Ferry as we do and please do your best to leave it just as you found it.”

The new homeowners found the shirts in their doorways and driveways. While the families have not registered any official complaints to the Dobbs Ferry police, the authorities are investigating the events. Several racial justice activists are also planning to hold a rally Sunday as a counter move against the message, while some others posted messages on Facebook defending the messages as harmless.

A photo of the shirts on a social media page has also drawn a response from Dobbs Ferry Mayor Vincent Rossillo. “Although the intent of the message on the tee shirt is unclear, it has offended people and created tension and divisiveness in our community,” he wrote in a village newsletter. “While there is clearly work to be done, please be assured that the Village is committed to make Dobbs Ferry a safe and inclusive community. I have also brought this to the attention of our Chief of Police and instructed them to investigate the issue further.”

Mayor Rossillo added, “Although I believe in open dialogue, we should never tolerate language that diminishes or disrespects any member of our community.  The Village is undergoing a natural transformation both physically and culturally. These changes can be difficult for some to accept; however, I believe they will ultimately make us stronger and better prepared to address the future.”

The Mayor also asked anyone with direct, firsthand knowledge of the tee-shirts to share it with the Dobbs Ferry Police at 693-5500.

A message using language similar to that on the shirts has been circulating on the Internet since last year, causing a furor in Stonington, Connecticut late last month when it was placed on social media by a member of the Board of Police Commissioners. The import of the language was rejected by Town officials, who continue to look into the matter.

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