Berkeley City Hall – tell white supremacists and fascists that they are not welcome
A free society must tolerate speech that is hurtful or offensive. But no civilized society must or should tolerate behavior by individuals or groups of people that promotes violence and even the total destruction of people based upon their color, gender, religion, or origin.
There is a rising tide of fascism and white supremacy across the United States that has been emboldened by Trump. There is also rapidly growing multi-racial, cross-community resistance across the United States that includes those most targeted by racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-racist allies, clergy and anti-fascist activists. Trump and others equate those who came with the expressed purpose of racist violence with those anti-facist activists who came to defend against it.
This claim is reflected in the messages of Berkeley Mayor Arreguin and echoed in the actions of City Council, the City Manager and the Berkeley Police Department. The Mayor has consistently refused to be firm in letting white supremacists and fascists know that they are NOT WELCOME in Berkeley. City Hall and the City Manager have repeatedly claimed that they cannot stop white supremacists from marching and 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.
Whether or not all of us opposed to white supremacy agree on tactics, we all agree that the enemy is those organizing under its banner. Even more concerning is the coordination between the Berkeley Police Department and white supremacist and neo-nazi organizations exposed in the recent KQED article.
On Friday, August 18 an ordinance passed at an emergency City Council meeting that gives the City Manager, the power to call for various forms of police intervention for non-permitted events. If City Hall decides to leverage this ordinance on Sunday, August 27th, we hope that it will do so with the explicit and sole purpose of stopping fascist and white supremacists from acts and calls of racist, sexist and homophobic violence, and not to stop anti-facist and anti-fascist protest.
We, the undersigned, demand that Mayor Arreguin, Berkeley City Council, the Berkeley City Manager and Berkeley Police Department be clear in tone and actions, including:
- Make public all conversations with white supremacist and fascists forces and in both public and private conversations be clear that fascists are NOT WELCOME in Berkeley.
- STOP equating racist violence and the self-defense and defense of those opposing it.
- DO NOT criminalize anti-fascists acting in self-defense and in the defense of our communities.
- DO NOT impinge on the freedom of assembly of those defending ourselves against white supremacist and fascist assembly. DO NOT obstruct our right to stand firm against racist, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic forces on Sunday, August 27, 2017.
As the actions of Berkeley have repercussions for the entire bay area, in fact the entire United States, the organizational and individual signatures reflect those of Berkeley residents and of the broader Bay Area.
|Af3irm SF/Bay Area
Alliance of South Asians Taking Action
Anti Police-Terror Project
Arab Resource and Organizing Center
Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour
Center for Political Education
Community Ready Corp
Dan Siegel, Siegel, Yee & Brunner civil rights law firm
National Lawyers Guild – San Francisco Bay Area
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Jewish Voice for Peace – Bay Area
Pastor Michael McBride and The Way Church
Seminary of the Street
SpeakOut – Institute for Democratic Education and Culture
SURJ Bay Area - Showing Up for Racial Justice East Bay