DEDHAM, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — UPDATED December, 12, 2022, 7:18 p.m.
The delayed arrivals of Christmas trees within the Dedham Public Library Endicott Branch caused quite a stir online, over whether the holiday decorations can be considered offensive.
On Monday, the Town of Dedham released a statement on behalf of the Dedham Library Director, saying there "is no ban on Christmas at the Dedham library."
"The initial decision to not display a Christmas tree was the result of an ongoing review of all our holiday decorations and displays that started back in the spring. What has played out on social media is unfortunate, it has negatively impacted our staff and the community, and frankly, transpired before we had even started our seasonal decorating," the statement read.
The statement goes on to say that the library will be putting up Christmas trees inside both library locations for this holiday season.
A few days prior to the library's statement, the Town of Dedham put out a statement of its own to support any town staff potentially targeted by online threats.
"Unfortunately, a recent social media post expressing disagreement with the decision to display a holiday tree at the library has quickly evolved into a polarized environment and has led to the harassment and bullying of town employees. We wholeheartedly condemn this behavior as it tears at the fabric of our community and cannot be tolerated. We continue to encourage constructive conversations and healthy debates, but because of social media and outside sources, what could have been something of legitimate discourse turned neighbor against neighbor, and has threatened the safety and well-being of community members and staff. This behavior is not a true reflection of our commitment to lead with kindness and civility," the Town of Dedham's statement read.
The original discussion went viral when Manager of the Endicott Branch Library Lisa Desmond made a post on Facebook, claiming that in conversations with Library Director Amber Moroney, she learned that Christmas trees would not be put up in the DPL because "people were made uncomfortable last year." The post got hundreds of interactions from users based in and outside of the Dedham community.
Desmond tells WBZ's Kim Tunnicliffe that the Board of Library Trustees are holding a meeting to discuss the presence of Christmas trees on Tuesday, December 13.
"It's about community, love, and unity. Not to exclude anybody. The decision was made instead of maybe putting heads together— we can call it a 'seasonal tree,' we can call it whatever you want," Desmond said.
Despite her appeal, some Facebook users went after Desmond online saying that it's "Christian privilege" to want a tree in the two library branches. Desmond said on Facebook that she received longer messages that prompted her to notify the police.
"I was actually put into a category with murderers— that was probably the lowest point I've ever had," Desmond said.
WBZ's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports.