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United Against Hate - A forum on how to combat the increase in racist violence

Sunday, July 09, 2017
3:30 PM - 6:30 PM
Event Type:
Panel Discussion
No Fascism in Berkeley
Location Details:
North Berkeley Senior Center
1901 Hearst Ave, Berkeley

United Against Hate - A forum on how to combat the increase in racist violence in our communities

BERKELEY—On Sunday, July 9, community members from across the Bay Area will gather to discuss the rise in racist hate group activity in Berkeley, and how to effectively respond to it through grassroots unity. This event is prompted by community concern following several events and demonstrations organized by fascists in Berkeley. In anticipation that white supremacist organizing will continue if unchecked, the purpose of the panel is to develop shared principles, goals and plans for organizing defense against hate and racism and building solidarity across targeted communities.

The panel of speakers will address histories of white supremacy and anti-racist organizing as well as proactive strategies for broad-based community defense. Following the panel, there will be time for attendees to organize into groups to talk about building local Berkeley unity, prepare for defense and plan positive events against all forms of hate.

It has been widely documented that hate speech and racist, anti-Black, anti-immigrant, sexist, Islamophobic, and anti-LGBTQ violence have been more prevalent across the country since Trump began his presidential bid. Organizations are coming together to talk about how communities are being targeted by groups organizing around the hatred of people of color, women, Muslims, queer and transgender people, and immigrants. They plan on developing community defense strategies against increased racist violence before hatred gains any more ground in Berkeley and the broader Bay Area.

“The recent stabbing of three people in Portland by a white supremacist who was spewing Islamophobic hate and the murder of Nabra Hassanen in Virginia on the way back from her mosque should make the stakes here very clear,” says says Lara Kiswani of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center. “This isn’t about protecting ‘free speech,’ it’s about protecting ourselves and each other from escalating racist violence. Hate speech is not free – it costs us our sense of belonging in our own community and our sense of safety. And it can cost us our very lives.”

Organizers have also expressed concern about the police using information gathered from right-wing extremists to politically isolate and criminally prosecute anti-fascist activists. Berkeley Police Department has arrested at least one local activist, raiding a San Leandro and Oakland home with a warrant seeking proof of political affiliations including books, posters, and web-browsing history. At the activists arraignments, white supremacist and other fascist activists have come to express violent racism and anti-semistism aimed at Dan Siegel, the anti-fascist protesters defense lawyer, and Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, among others.

“I am deeply alarmed by the recent collaboration between the Berkeley Police Department (BPD) and these right-wing extremists. Rather than criminalize people who are standing up to fascism, we should be focusing on how to stop the spread of racist and misogynist hate in our community. Berkeley owes a great debt to those who defended us against fascism” says Sara Kershnar, twenty-five year resident of Berkeley.

“When the BPD brutalizes and arrests Black Lives Matter Protestors, and then starts working with neo-Nazis to target anti-fascists, it’s pretty clear whose side they’re on,” says Donna Willmott, of the white anti-racist organization Catalyst Project, a forum co-sponsor. The Berkeley Police Department has been under fire in recent weeks for their extreme use of force on demonstrators at a recent City Council hearing on police militarization and for refusing to make public an independent review on their use of racial profiling.

The panel and small group discussions will be moderated by Woods Ervin of Critical Resistance and Sara Kershnar of the National Lawyers Guild-SF.

Panelists will include:

· Daniela, AFFIRM and Northern California Anti-Racist Action
· Judith Mirkinson, Vice President of National Lawyer’s Guild – SF Bay Area
· Lara Kiswani, Arab Resource and Organizing Center
· Tur-Ha Ak, Anti-Police Terror Project

Local organizations working to stop the spread of racist hate speech and violence will be available for press interviews before the forum. Several hundred people are expected to attend. This event is intended to spark community strategies for resistance and may be followed by other Berkeley events – including a march and block party celebrating our unity, community defense and de-escalation trainings, and a unity concert.
Added to the calendar on Mon, Jul 3, 2017 10:01AM
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