Congresswoman Lois Capps was capped as she arrived at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse on Friday morning for the kickoff of Santa Barbara’s No Place for Hate campaign.

Sponsors and local participants handed out black baseball caps bearing their slogan to guests and speakers Jan. 24 in the Courthouse breezeway. Community leaders and No Place for Hate organizers launched the program, similar to ones in cities around the nation, to oppose bigotry.

No Place for Hate was created in 1999 by the Anti-Defamation League, a national civil and human rights organization that fights anti-Semitism specifically but also addresses broader causes. ADL is intended to provide a framework for participating communities to fight hatred and bigotry by promoting respect through local programs and activities.

No Place for Hate asks communities interested in building their own campaigns to create a diverse coalition made up of local leaders and activists who are interested in fighting hatred. Once this team has been assembled, an official sign-on to the campaign is held to publicly proclaim the community’s commitment to end prejudice and intolerance.

The newly affirmed community must then complete a minimum of three new activities which support the program’s principles before it can become a certified No Place for Hate community; as a new member of No Place for Hate, Santa Barbara is still in the process of forming these activities. ADL offers over 30 programs to help reach this goal, including interfaith exchanges and anti-bias training. Materials, resources and matching grants are also provided by ADL.

Large cities such as Boston, Cleveland, Houston and Philadelphia have had success through this program, said the program’s organizers.

Partners in this coalition include organizations such as Aids Project Central Coast, Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Santa Barbara Gay and Lesbian Resource Center, Santa Barbara Hate Crimes Prevention Network, Santa Barbara Jewish Federation and nearly 30 others.

Santa Barbara’s ADL director Julie Saltoun led Friday’s kick-off. Co-chairs for No Place for Hate Judy and Rob Egenolf introduced the program and expressed their hopes for Santa Barbara’s success, encouraging the community to reach into diverse institutions in order to erase prejudices and root out hatred through community-integrating activities.

Capps, Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Jim Anderson and many others spoke on Friday. Capps referred to the effects of the events of Sept. 11 on communities across the country.

“In our zeal for patriotism, let us not go too far over the line, where hatred can flourish,” she said.

Anderson said he remembered a cross burning in the front yard of an African-American police officer and Lompoc resident last year, as well as other hate crimes he had witnessed in describing his motives for supporting Santa Barbara’s new commitment towards the cause.

Jackson said she had confidence Santa Barbara would unite in order to challenge intolerance and prevent hate crimes of all forms. With her fists in the air, she rooted on what looked like the No Place for Hate baseball team.

“I’m happy to play as long as we can come in first place,” Jackson said, likening those joined in the No Place for Hate effort to members of a sports team.