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Group including Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis vows to guard free speech, fight bigotry.

FILE PHOTO - Gresham Mayor Shane BemisGresham Mayor Shane Bemis and a group of metro area mayors joined a new nationwide mayoral effort to fight extremism and bigotry.

The local Metropolitan Mayors' Consortium, chaired by Bemis, joined The Mayors' Compact, formed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors in partnership with the Anti-Defamation League.

"As mayors, we interact with our neighbors every single day, be it at the grocery store, the high school football game, or while we are grabbing lunch in our downtowns. That closeness to the people we represent goes a long way to combat hate and intolerance, and holds our collective social contracts together," Bemis said in the announcement.

More than 300 mayors from 45 states have signed onto the compact. The local Metropolitan Mayors' Consortium consists of 25 mayors from the Portland metropolitan area who advocate for collective local government priorities at the state and regional level.

The compact concentrates on 10 action items that promote the fundamental principles of justice and equality that define America. That includes expressly rejecting extremism, white supremacy, and all forms of bigotry. The compact calls for denouncing all acts of hate wherever they occur.

The mayors will strive to ensure public safety while protecting free speech and other basic constitutional rights.

Other action items include calling for fully-resourced law enforcement and civil rights investigations of domestic terrorism and hate crimes. Mayors will elevate and prioritize anti-bias and anti-hate programs in our nation's schools. They intend to support targeted communities and bring together civic and community leaders to build trust.

"The collective force of the region's mayors coming together is a clear demonstration of our values for the people we represent," Bemis said.

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