BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A snowman decoration holding up a multi-colored paper chain with his stick arms and proclaiming “No Hate In 21228” on his fake snowball body has been removed from the yard of the Knights of Columbus Patapsco Council in Catonsville.
“Snooki” wasn’t the only snowman taken down from the display, but he was the impetus for the removal of all of the decorations.
A post on the Knights of Columbus Facebook page reads:
“While the message ‘No Hate in 21228’ is not a political statement on its own, the slogan was adopted by a local political action group; therefore, the slogan indeed has political overtones. The [Catonsville Celebrations] Committee does not permit any type of political statements as part of its programs, and one snowman was removed from the display. Further, the Committee then made the decision to remove the entire display to avoid any further controversy.”
The snowmen were a Catonsville Celebrations Committee fundraising effort for the annual Fourth of July parade. Local businesses were sponsoring the decorations. Snooki was sponsored by a local real estate team, The Beacon Home Team.
The political action group mentioned in the Knights of Columbus statement is the Catonsville Indivisibles. The group organized a “No Hate In 21228 Vigil and Rally” in August, and its website banner says “Resisting the Trump Agenda.”
The Beacon Home Team wrote on Facebook that, although Snooki was removed, they are still sponsoring the parade, which they call a “cherished tradition.” They also say the snowman’s message wasn’t intended to be political.
“It was never our intention to espouse anything other than peace & harmony, a frequent theme over the winter holidays. Coincidentally, the message is consistent with the fair housing/non discriminatory practices required by law in our work as real estate agents.”
Meg and Marybeth, who make up The Beacon Home Team, have also written in multiple posts that they hope people continue to support the committee and the parade.
“We sincerely hope that everyone who enjoys the annual Catonsville 4th of July celebration, as we do, will give generously to support it,” they wrote on Facebook.
Marybeth tells WJZ they hope the situation encourages a productive dialogue, and that people get more involved in the community as a result of the incident, not less involved.
She says she and Meg have been receiving pictures of copycat Snookis that members of the community have put up on their own.
The situation has angered some residents, who have spoken out online about it.
“The group that originally hosted the ‘No Hate in 21228’ rally over the summer did so in response to the uprising of white supremacy rallies throughout the country,” Tracy Soltesz wrote in an open letter on Facebook. “They wanted the people of my town to know that no matter what color, shape, size, gender, or who you choose to love – you are welcome in our town.” Soltesz says she’s disappointed that “hate and exclusion and pettiness won out.”
“Speaking as someone who was privileged to help with the original No Hate vigil this past summer, it seems clear that we live in a community that genuinely needs this ongoing conversation,” Kate Hamill wrote on one of the Beacon Home Team’s Facebook posts.
“I believe Catonsville is more than the 4th of July, and it is crucial to consider how we treat people the other 364 days of the year,” Lisa Galbiati Boone commented. “My family was welcomed into this community with open arms 17+ years ago, and I will use my voice to make sure everyone receives the same welcome – with open arms – that Snooki represents.”