Racial Justice Leaders Demand Berkeley Ban Fascist Rallies

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Dan Siegel (in cap) and others speak Thursday at press conference on the steps of Berkeley City Hall.

East Bay racial justice organizers convened an emergency press conference at Berkeley City Hall Thursday to criticize Berkeley are authorities’ “flawed approach” to addressing the white nationalists who intend to descend on the Bay Area this weekend.

They also called for a rally to raise a united front of resistance to the purveyors of racist violence in the Bay Area and across the country.

“Cities like San Francisco and Berkeley have no obligation to facilitate acts of violence by hate groups. The fascist rallies should be forbidden,” said Dan Siegel of the National Lawyers Guild and the Oakland Justice Coalition.

Siegel is responding to concerns that a recent Berkeley ordinance plays into the divisive approach promoted by the Trump administration. On August 18, the Berkeley City Council gave a blank check to authorize police intervention for non-permitted events, in a move that will likely target anti-fascists as well as white supremacists.

“We are not proposing that offensive speech be outlawed,” said Siegel. “A free society must tolerate speech that is hurtful or offensive. But no civilized society should tolerate behavior that promotes violence and even the total destruction of people based upon their color, gender, religion, or origin.”

According to Tur-Ha Ak of the Anti-Police Terror Project.  “Berkeley City Hall has repeatedly claimed that they cannot stop white supremacists from rallying because of their commitment to free speech.”

“Arguing about the free speech rights of Nazis, fascists, and KKK members is a trap. The issue is not speech, it is violence. The fascists do not want to argue with us, they want to harm us. We will not stand by and let it go down like that – nor will we accept the criminalization of those who defend our communities,”

Said, Nichola Torbett, Christian organizer and lay leader at First Congregational Church of Oakland. “Faith communities, and particularly the Black Church, have always stood together to lead the struggle against hate and genocidal violence.

“We may have different approaches, from the non-violent civil disobedience that won historic civil rights legislation to the bold bodily courage of the anti-fascists – but we all need to step up to make love win over hate.”

A Rally to Resist Violence & Hate in Berkeley will be held Sunday at 11 a.m., at Hearst Ave. and MLK Jr. Way
in Berkeley. For more information, visit surjbayarea.org or facebook.com/SURJBayArea

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