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Show of solidarity with Buddhist monks



With the Buddhist Support Society under assault from repeated acts of vandalism, community groups, neighbors and the police gathered at the temple Thursday night to show solidarity and offer suggestions to help stop the attacks.

“At this point we’re acting as friends of the temple when difficult times have come up,” said Doug McGill, founder of the Rochester Meditation Center, who called the meeting. “The news of the vandalism has hit everyone hard.”

There have been problems with vandalism against the temple in southeast Rochester for years, but the incidents have increased in the past year — smashed mailboxes, broken lights, and a cross spray-painted across their driveway with “Jesus saves” written in orange letters.

Glenda Bale, who lives next door to the temple, said she hasn’t heard of similar problems among the other neighbors, which she interpreted as a sign the Buddhists were specifically being targeted.

“It just confuses me,” she said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

Among the suggestions from the 30 or so people at the meeting: educate the public more about Buddhism with an open house at the temple, translate the Web site into English and reach out more to neighbors.

More immediately, the monks could work on reporting incidents to the police more quickly, get street lights put up to deter criminals or install a more extensive security system.

McGill was pleased at the turnout and the conversation at the meeting.

“There was a real open, helpful exchange of practical ideas, and that was what we were shooting for,” he said. “I did see a light go on on, on both sides tonight.”

The temple recently installed motion-activated lights and a security door to discourage the vandals and protect the seven to eight monks who live there.

The incidents have been particularly hard on the temple’s monks and members, some of whom fled Cambodia after the genocide there in the late 1970s and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, McGill said.

Source : The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

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