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III percent protest

Members of The III Percent of Idaho held a protest on the College of Southern Idaho Refugee Center Oct. 18, 2015, in Twin Falls. United Visions of Idaho Executive Director Adrienne Evans said groups such as this have contributed to an escalation of hate speech in Twin Falls.

TWIN FALLS — Over the past few years, voices have risen up in Twin Falls against refugees, bringing the city into the national spotlight again and again.

First a movement against refugees, and later a sex assault that got spun into fake news, painted an unflattering image of rural Idaho.

Now, a local group has reached out to an Idaho coalition and asked it to provide anti-discrimination training in Twin Falls. On Sunday, United Vision for Idaho will present a lecture it hopes will help stop the escalation of hateful language in the city.

“We have to all stand up to racism, in all its forms,” said lecturer and United Vision for Idaho Executive Director Adrienne Evans.

Evans, who described Twin Falls as a “haven for white nationalists,” said she became acutely aware of anti-refugee language escalating during the 2016 presidential election. She believes President Donald Trump’s “hate speech” regarding immigrants has emboldened others to speak out, too.

“This kind of rhetoric is not appropriate,” Evans said. “It’s not normal. It’s not acceptable.”

United Visions for Idaho is a coalition of 40 nonprofits throughout the state with a common goal to advance justice on myriad issues such as immigration, health care and raising the minimum wage. The coalition has delivered its anti-discrimination lecture to 800 Idaho students and 400 Idaho leaders in more than a year.

The coalition designed “The Spiral of Injustice” program in partnership with the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights, home of the Idaho Anne Frank Memorial. The program, as part of the lecture, will walk people through the stages of discrimination: language, avoidance, discrimination, violence and elimination.

The “Words Matter” lecture will also cover how people can, as individuals and collectively, disrupt these cycles.

The presentation takes place at 4 p.m. Sunday at First Presbyterian Church, 209 Fifth Ave. N.

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