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Diversity posters counter white supremacist ones

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LOCK HAVEN, CLINTON COUNTY (WOLF) -- Some white supremacist posters that were spotted in Clinton County are now prompting a response.

Several women are putting out their own signs, promoting diversity and acceptance.

The message these women are promoting is now plastered all along E. Main Street in Lock Haven. They had 200 signs printed up, and started handing them out on Friday.

"We just explained why we were doing it and everybody was very receptive and thought it was a great idea," says Sandy DeBonis, who handed out posters.

DeBonis says shop owners happily put up these diversity posters after seeing other ones.

Those were posted at places like poles near Dickey Elementary School a couple weeks ago, advertising a white supremacy website.

"I just think everybody should just try to get along, and putting them around the schools for these young people to see and read, I think is childish and I don't believe in it," says resident Kendra Bendik.

DeBonis is a retired teacher from the Keystone Central district. She and Joan Heller, a retired professor, wanted to teach a different lesson: one of acceptance, especially following the recent violence in Charlottesville.

"We wanted to do something that was positive and that would be a way to bring the community together, and a way to counteract that message of hate with one that is one of inclusivity," says Heller, who handed out posters.

"I'm all for equal rights movements, that's my belief and that's how I feel about it, so I personally wouldn't want to see white nationalist signs up anywhere. Diversity signs, yeah," says resident Jason Morris.

On Friday, seven women handed out just about all their posters, leaving some for people to pick up at the Express newspaper. The friends are now calling themselves "SPARK," or Supporting Public Action and Reliable Knowledge.

"We want the people of color in this area to know that there are people here that are not white supremacists," says Heller. "That we are people that like to have everyone treated equally and with respect, and that everyone deserves to have a place in our society."

"It was very positive," says DeBonis. "I was very happy about it and we want to live in a community that accepts everybody."

While we were in town, we did not see any of the white supremacist posters. One resident said the school already took down the ones by its building as soon as they were posted.

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