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‘Love not Hate’ banner Uptown stands against racism toward Asian population

<p>&quot;Defending Democracy&quot; hung a banner Uptown after the recent anti-Asian violence.</p>

"Defending Democracy" hung a banner Uptown after the recent anti-Asian violence.

Uptown has recently seen the return of a banner reading ‘Love not Hate’ in response to recent violence against Asian and Asian American communities

The banner, sponsored by the local, informal public action group called Defending Democracy, previously hung Uptown on several occasions, including this past summer in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests. 

It is the second banner sponsored by Defending Democracy with this message – the original banner was one-sided and worn out before a replacement was acquired. 

Margarette Beckwith, a former landscape architect and Miami University faculty member, said she turned her focus to community political engagement after her retirement, leading her to help found Defending Democracy.

“Being retired, I’m doing this kind of a project now, where we’re working to address issues that we think are important,” Beckwith said. “That has evolved us into the banner business [along with other activities].”. 

Marilyn Melzey, an Oxford community member, also helps coordinate the Defending Democracy group. 

Melzey, a retired English teacher at Talawanda High School and Miami, manages Defending Democracy’s presence on the Oxford Action Facebook group, which serves to inform community members of the work that is being done. 

“We did put a picture of the banner on our Oxford Action Facebook page, and we got 88 likes for it,” Melzey said. “People like that we had taken the initiative to put up the ‘Love not Hate’ banner.” 

The first banner bearing the ‘Love not Hate’ message was created in Aug. 2017 following the Charlottesville riots. Sponsored by donations from community members, Melzey and Beckwith paid the city a $100 fee to have the banner hung Uptown. 

Following the death of George Floyd, the city reached out to Beckwith to see if the group could hang the banner again. The original one-sided banner was largely deteriorated, so Defending Democracy raised funds to purchase a new banner. 

Roughly 25 community members donated, and the group had a new double-sided banner printed by Moonshine Screen Printing, Inc.

In an email sent to The Miami Student Beckwith commented on the banner’s most recent erection.

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“We are thoroughly in support of the Asian citizens, students, faculty and residents of the Oxford area who, in many ways, have been the target of racism in this country,” Beckwith wrote. “We were happy to raise the banner in their name and cause.”