Haddonfield, NJ – Haddonfield’s Quakers invited the local community to replace symbols of hate found on their property with symbols of kindness, tolerance, and peace. Swastikas were spray painted on trees in the historic Quaker graveyard. These hate symbols faced not just the Quaker meetinghouse, but a preschool.
Both the Haddonfield Friends School and the Haddonfield Friends Meeting, the religious body, use the property. The school has students ranging from age 2 through the eighth grade, and was on spring break during the vandalism.
Although these hate symbols were covered and the police were contacted, this religious group famous for activism, toleration and peace did more: It invited the local community to decorate the desecrated area with symbols of peace, love and tolerance before students returned to the property on Monday morning.
The meeting also decided to contact media outlets to report on this disturbing vandalism. “I believe that silence in the face of hate is at best a sign of surrender, and at worst amounts to complicity,” wrote Dave Austin, the meeting’s clerk, in an online statement. “Intolerance festers and metastasizes in darkness and silence: it depends and feeds upon apathy and indifference.”
The event coincided with a special planting of a sapling provided from the 500- to 600-year old Salem Peace Tree, which fell in 2019 on the Salem Friends Meeting’s property in Salem, New Jersey. Quaker meetings throughout South Jersey were provided with these invaluable saplings.