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Sauk County Board may consider anti-hate resolution

December 3, 2018

Citizens listen during a Baraboo Talks community meeting on Thursday.

In response to an incendiary photo of Baraboo high school boys that prompted international criticism, a panel is expected to consider a resolution declaring that Sauk County is no place for hate.

During a meeting Tuesday, the Sauk County Board’s Executive and Legislative Committee is slated to consider a proposal in which supervisors would affirm a commitment that the county does all of the following:

Inspires compassion and renounces all forms of hatred.Promotes equal opportunity and rejects favoritism.Respects differences and fights oppression.Celebrates diversity and repudiates bigotry.Demands reasoning and disavows arbitrariness.Nurtures truthfulness and exposes dishonesty.Honors wisdom and critical thinking and challenges mindless opinion.

The resolution states that human history is full of “unchallenged hatred, discrimination, intolerance, prejudice, injustice, dishonesty and ignorance and the horrible consequences of those failures.”

It goes on to say that great communities oppose those characteristics and that the board embraces its duty to help in that effort.

Board Chairman Peter Vedro of Baraboo said the resolution is intended to support the work of the city of Baraboo and the Baraboo School District in responding to the photo controversy.

“This should not be new, that we need to continue to move in the direction of becoming a more perfect union,” Vedro said.

A pre-prom photo taken in May shows a group of Baraboo High School boys on the steps of the county courthouse. Most of them are smiling as they extend their arms, and some of their arms are stiffened in what appears to be a Nazi salute.

The photographer has said he asked the boys to make a “hi sign” and wave to their parents, and that the photo has been taken out of context. Someone posted the picture to the @GoBaraboo Twitter account with the caption, “We even got the black kid to throw it up #BarabooProud.”

Two boys who did not raise their arms have said it was clear that their classmates were making a Sieg Heil gesture in a poor attempt at humor.

The photo prompted current and former students to come forward about other instances of intolerance within the school, and leaders have organized a series of discussions intended to move the community forward.

If the Executive and Legislative Committee approves the anti-hate resolution Tuesday, it would then be forwarded to the full board for consideration at its Dec. 18 meeting.

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