BERKELEY (CBS SF) — Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and other East Bay elected officials gathered on the steps of Berkeley City Hall Tuesday morning to speak out against bigotry and hate in advance of a rally against Marxism that’s scheduled to be held in Berkeley on Sunday.
Lee characterized the event, planned for 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park, as a white nationalists’ rally but organizer Amber Cummings, who spoke to reporters before Lee’s news conference, said it’s simply an anti-Marxist rally and said she doesn’t want white nationalists to attend.
“White supremacy is not allowed at my rally,” said Cummings. “We do not want hateful people there. We do not want violence people there. If anyone is coming to with the intent of violence, do not come to my rally.”
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Lee said the rally on Sunday “represents a fundamental challenge to our community values, regardless of how the organizers are characterizing it. We will proclaim that Berkeley and the East Bay stand united against hate.”
Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin said he has characterized the event as a white nationalist rally because social media postings promoting it are filled with “hate-filled messages” and activists who engaged in violence at demonstrations in Berkeley earlier this year say they plan to come.
“Our community is united against hate and we are working to keep the peace this Sunday,” Arreguin said.
He said, “I believe in peaceful resistance” and called for groups who want to oppose the rally Sunday to hold counter-demonstrations at another site nearby so there’s no violence between groups with opposing viewpoints.
“We want to avoid violence at all costs,” Arreguin said.
Lee said, “President Trump has emboldened white nationalists but we must hold steadfast to our progressive values as a community, regardless of the challenges. We cannot allow anyone, certainly not the president, to roll back the clock on progress. We must stand united against hate.”
State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, said, “White supremacist and neo-Nazi groups are not welcome in Berkeley, our state or anywhere in our nation.”
Skinner said she has introduced legislation to expand California’s hate crime law “so that the hateful acts of these racist groups can be prosecuted fully.”
She said, “I also introduced resolutions that condemn the terroristic acts of white supremacist groups and urge law enforcement to prosecute them under terrorism and hate crime laws.”
Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, said, “Recent events have provided a painful reminder that we must continually address hate and racism and that education can be one of the most powerful tools for teaching tolerance to our students.”
Thurmond said he will be hosting a roundtable discussion with education leaders and government officials this week “about the role education can play in countering racism and hate speech.”
Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, said, “The East Bay stands firmly against the recent incidents of hatred and bigotry.”
Bonta said, “These voices of ignorance and intolerance will never prevail. They will be unmasked and we will see they hold no power to erode our California values of inclusion, equity and opportunity. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the East Bay as a strong and diverse community. We will never let hate and bigotry divide us.”
Cummings said she organized the rally on Sunday back in the late spring, long before a white nationalist drove a car into a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, killing one person and injuring others.
Cummings, who’s known as “Based Tranny,” accused Arreguin of characterizing Sunday’s event as a gathering of white supremacists as “an outright lie” in an effort to incite violence against the people who will participate in the rally.
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