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Watertown and Belmont and surrounding towns have a thriving Armenian-American population.

Belmont withdraws from ADL program

By Alex I. Oster, Boston Globe Correspondent | September 18, 2007

BELMONT - The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously yesterday to end the town's membership in the No Place for Hate program, sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League. Article Tools

Selectmen voted 2 to 1 against a clause in the resolution that would make membership in the program conditional on the ADL's clear acknowledgment that the massacres of Armenians in present-day Turkey were genocide and upon its support of congressional legislation that would officially acknowledge the genocide.

Dissenting members said it was not their place to influence national politics. But Selectman Paul Solomon, who supported the second clause, said Armenians "have lived in the shadow of this horrendous event, and continual denial is a personal affront to them all."

Many Armenian groups view the ADL's lack of support for the congressional legislation as hypocritical, considering it is a civil rights organization.

Debate among the three male members of Belmont's Board of Selectmen did not run smoothly last night. After a selectman raised objections to the second clause of the resolution, David Boyajian of Newton - credited by many with starting the exodus with a letter published in the Watertown TAB & Press - accused the selectmen "of being prejudiced against Armenians and treating them as second-class citizens."

Board of Selectmen chairman Angelo R. Firenze tabled the matter after the crowd became unruly, but a calming speech by a local resident caused selectmen to revive the measure.

Globe correspondent Melissa Beecher contributed to this report.