Oakland’s Charlottesville Vigil: Unified for Love

This Medium post is by Brad Schenck, resident of Oakland, CA, National Activist, Former Obama 2008 & 2012 Digital Team, and current Digital Strategist for Hip Hop Caucus.

I am still processing the beautiful and diverse C-Ville solidarity vigil that came together in Oakland this past Sunday. A unified group of over 250 people met downtown to take a stand against white supremacy, anti-semitism, racism, and hate. The powerful group included Native Americans, African American and Latino leaders, random German tourists, young people, local organizers, and people of all colors and creeds.

For me, the journey started Friday night, while I was in Atlanta for the annual Netroots Nation conference with thousands of other like-minded people who want to make a better world. Instead of attending the conference, I was stuck to the TV in my hotel room, nauseated from the images of the white supremacists marching through Charlottesville. However undoubtedly saddened that this was actually happening in 2017, I was not surprised. Saturday was a blur of meetings at the conference and news trickling in from Charlottesville. When I heard about the car that rammed through a crowd killing activist Heather Heyer, I was again saddened, but not surprised.

The hate and violence seen in Charlottesville is the outcome of the rise of hate groups and crimes that the Southern Poverty Law Center has been reporting for a long time. It is the outcome of white nationalists like Steve Bannon occupying the White House. It is the outcome of Donald Trump giving cover and aid to nazis, white nationalists, and the KKK with misleading statements and extremely dangerous rhetoric.

As I flew back to Oakland from Atlanta Saturday night, I was watching vigils across the country appear on the coalition page Indivisible is leading. Somewhere 30,000 feet in the air that night, my colleagues and I at Hip Hop Caucus helped coordinate the Oakland vigil with the Bay Area Leadership Committee and other local leaders.

When I woke up Sunday morning in Oakland, I immediately joined other planners to make the beautiful free form vigil come to life in-person. We used the model similar to the open format Rev Yearwood and the team at Hip Hop Caucus laid out at the nationally trending #RespectMyVote rally in DC just weeks earlier, giving an open mic platform to a wide range of voices and groups.

Sunday, August 13, 2017 — Latham Square, Oakland, CA: Vigil in Solidarity with Charlottesville

The event opened with remarks from an amazing community organizer, she kicked off the event by asking everyone to support each other, be safe, and led us in a chant; “¡Si Se Puede! Yes We Can!”

Executive Director of Our Family Coalition, Renata Moreira. With her child in hand, described the impacts of the Trump Administration on LGTBQ families. She also stepped up to organize a space for families to come together before the vigil to feed babies and make signs.

Renata Moreira the Executive Director of Our Family Coalition

Following Renata, a member of the Ohlone community, the original and surviving people of the land in the Bay Area, spoke and asked everyone to light a candle. “In the face of generations of brutal violence and systematic subjugation, the Ohlone people have survived Spanish soldiers and priests with whips and bibles, Mexican rancheros with guns, and white 49ers with chains and murder.” If you live in the Bay Area, you can support active payments for occupation here: Shuumi Land Tax.

Following, Uncle Bobby, the CEO of Love Not Blood Campaign, former CEO of Oscar Grant Foundation, and Uncle of Oscar Grant, gave one of the most powerful speeches of the night.

Part of the ask for the evening was to read a poem or speech that is moving and about overcoming white supremacy or the transition to a united world. Everyone was moved by Dr, Carolyn D Harris Muchell’s reading of Dr. King’s “How Long, Not Long” speech.

A surprising moment in the night a woman walked to the open mic to share her story. She is part of the Lee family. Yes, the Robert E. Lee family of Virginia. Her emotional words called out the ideology of white supremacy and that none of us are free until all of us are free. This was particularly moving, considering that the events began over the weekend when hundreds of white supremacists wielding torches rallied around the statue of her relative in Charlottesville.

Monique Tula, Executive Director of Harm Reduction Coalition, read to everyone a captivating piece TTSD (Shrump* Traumatic Stress Disorder) by writer Adrienne Maree Brown. Here is the video.

Others stepped up to the microphone throughout the night with amazing perspectives and stories. Here are just a few:

  • GERMAN TOURISTS passing by that expressed their outrage of seeing nazis on TV in the United States, how Europeans do not believe that Trump speaks for America, and their hope that the resistance and democracy will win.
  • YOUNG PEOPLE: a powerful young speaker who was asked by a friend how she felt in response to the domestic terror attack that killed Heather Heyer.
  • JEWISH father who describes his nightmare of seeing Nazis in the streets of America, feelings of wanting to hide behind his white privilege but knowing that we all need to rise up and stand up to hate.

Check out the video of their remarks here.

Sunday’s vigil in Oakland was an honor to be a part of. It was a beautiful gathering of people that joined together to stand up for unity and love, over division and hate.

  • Brad A Schenck, Oakland Resident and National Activist

Below is Hip Hop Caucus’ official statement on Charlottesville and Trump’s response.


Ver abajo para versión en español.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 16, 2017

MEDIA CONTACT
Mark Antoniewicz, mark@hiphopcaucus.org, 202–506–5882
Environmental and Public Interest Groups Condemn Racist Violence and Intolerance in Charlottesville, Virginia

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A broad coalition of environmental, public health and public interest groups, including prominent African American and Latino organizations, issued the following joint statement in response to this past weekend’s white nationalist gathering and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia and President Trump’s inexplicable reversal as to who’s to blame for the violence:

“Our nation witnessed tragic, despicable and completely unnecessary violence in Charlottesville this past weekend. Driven by hatred and racism, these white nationalist and neo-nazi groups and their actions do not represent our values, nor the values of the vast majority of Americans. We also remember the life of Heather Heyer and commit to continuing the struggle she died for.

The behavior of white nationalists is neither acceptable nor normal and we will continue to stand in solidarity against such hatred and in defense of the rights and safety of communities across the country like Charlottesville. We will not tolerate any form of hatred or discrimination and will align ourselves with communities of color and creeds that are the target of ongoing bigotry.

We call on our political leaders to condemn these acts not just today, but every time they happen. President Trump and all political leaders, no matter their party affiliation, have an obligation to stand up against such hate groups immediately and unequivocally. Their voices and words — and lack thereof — matter.

The tragic events in Charlottesville fall on our shoulders as a nation. No one who stands for justice, equality, and human dignity can stay silent any longer. We will stand unified against the white nationalist movement that everyday threatens America’s people and ideals, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all. We will ultimately prevail by countering this hate with love.”

17 for Peace and Justice
350.org
African American Nature and Parks Experience
Alaska Wilderness League
Alliance for Climate Education (ACE)
Audubon Naturalist Society
Austin 2030 District
Azul
Be The Change -USA
Black permaculture network
Bold Alliance
California League of Conservation Voters
Care About Climate
Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Diversity & the Environment
Center for International Environmental Law
Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN)
Chispa
Citizens’ Climate Lobby
Clean Air Council
Climate Hawks Vote
Climate Nexus
Coalition Center for Popular Democracy
Defend Our Future
Defenders of Wildlife
Diverse Environmental Leaders Speakers Bureau
Dogwood Alliance
Dynamic Aptitude
Earthjustice
Earthworks
Endangered Species Coalition
Environmental Defense Fund
Environmental Leadership Program
EPCF — Climate Change Disruption
Food & Water Watch
Friends of Organ Mountains Desert Peaks
Friends of the Earth
Green 2.0
Green For All
GreenFaith
GreenLatinos
Greenpeace USA
Greensgrow
Hip Hop Caucus
Hispanic Access Foundation
Hispanic Federation
IDEASForUs
Imagine Power LLC
Institute for Sustainable Communities
Institute for Sutainable Urban Transformation
Interfaith Power & Light
International Mayan League
La Union Hace La Fuerza
Latino Victory Project
League of Conservation Voters
League of United Latin American Citizens
Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA)
Maine Conservation Voters
Mi Familia Vota
Moms Clean Air Force
Mount Moriah FBH Church
Mt Eastern Joy, LLC
National Hispanic Medical Association
National Ocean Protection
National Parks Conservation Association
Natural Resources Defense Council
NCLR Action Fund
Network for Sustainable Financial Markets
NextGen America
Noble Renewables Group of the West
North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO)
Ocean Conservancy
Oceana
Our Climate
Outdoor Afro
Peoples Climate Movement
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Population Connection
Power Shift Network
Public Citizen
Rachel Carson Council
Rachel’s Network
Radiance Studios LLC
Rainforest Action Network
Roosevelt Institute
Rural Coalition
Sachamama
Save EPA
Sierra Club
Sierra Club Virginia Chapter
Sunrise
Sustainable Agricultural Education Association
Sustainable Practices
SustainUS
The Environmental Justice Center at Chestnut Hill United Church
The Evangelical Environmental Network
The Farmworker Association of Florida, Inc
The Joy Trip Project
The Praxis Project
The Trail Posse
The Wilderness Society
Toxics Action Center
Union of Concerned Scientists
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Virginia Interfaith Power & Light
Virginia League of Conservation Voters
Voces Verdes
Voices for Progress
Voto Latino
Waterkeeper Alliance
WE ACT for Environmental Justice


PARA DISTRIBUCIÓN INMEDIATA
August 16, 2017

CONTACTO PARA LOS MEDIOS
Yamila Pino, (202) 440–1432 / (202) 660–1433
Grupos ambientalistas y de interés público condenan la violencia racista y la intolerancia en Charlottesville, Virginia

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Una amplia coalición de grupos ambientalistas, de salud pública e interés público, que también incluyen reconocidas organizaciones afroamericanas y latinas, emitieron las siguientes declaraciones en respuesta a la manifestación y violencia de nacionalistas blancos el fin de semana pasado en Charlottesville, Virginia, y el inexplicable revés del President Trump sobre los culpables de los sucesos:

“Nuestra nación ha sido testigo de una violencia trágica, despiadada y completamente innecesaria este pasado fin de semana en Charlottesville. Impulsados por el odio y el racismo, estos grupos de nacionalistas blancos y neo-nazis, al igual que sus acciones, no representan nuestros valores. Tampoco representan los valores de la mayoría de los estadounidenses. También recordamos la vida de Heather Heyer y nos comprometemos a continuar la lucha que le costó la vida.

El comportamiento de nacionalistas blancos no es aceptable. Por tal razón, continuaremos expresando nuestra solidaridad en contra de dicho odio y defendiendo los derechos y bienestar de comunidades como Charlottesville a lo largo del país. No toleraremos ninguna expresión de odio o discriminación y nos unimos a las comunidades de color y de diversos credos que son víctimas de la intolerancia.

Hacemos un llamado a nuestros líderes políticos para que repudien estos actos no sólo en estos momentos sino cada vez que ocurran. El Presidente Trump y todos los funcionarios electos — independientemente de su afiliación política — tienen la obligación de no quedarse callados ante estos grupos de odio inmediata e inequívocamente. Sus voces y palabras — al igual que la ausencia de ellas — importan.

Los trágicos eventos de Charlottesville pesan sobre la nación entera. Todo el que luche por la justicia, igualdad y dignidad del ser humano tiene el deber de levantar su voz. Nos uniremos en contra de lo que representa el movimiento supremacista blanco que día a día es una amenaza al pueblo estadounidense y sus ideales como el derecho a la dignidad, libertad y búsqueda de la felicidad. Al final saldremos victoriosos al hacerle frente a este odio con amor”.

17 for Peace and Justice
350.org
African American Nature and Parks Experience
Alaska Wilderness League
Alliance for Climate Education (ACE)
Audubon Naturalist Society
Austin 2030 District
Azul
Be The Change -USA
Black permaculture network
Bold Alliance
California League of Conservation Voters
Care About Climate
Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Diversity & the Environment
Center for International Environmental Law
Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN)
Chispa
Citizens’ Climate Lobby
Clean Air Council
Climate Hawks Vote
Climate Nexus
Coalition Center for Popular Democracy
Defend Our Future
Defenders of Wildlife
Diverse Environmental Leaders Speakers Bureau
Dogwood Alliance
Dynamic Aptitude
Earthjustice
Earthworks
Endangered Species Coalition
Environmental Defense Fund
Environmental Leadership Program
EPCF — Climate Change Disruption
Food & Water Watch
Friends of Organ Mountains Desert Peaks
Friends of the Earth
Green 2.0
Green For All
GreenFaith
GreenLatinos
Greenpeace USA
Greensgrow
Hip Hop Caucus
Hispanic Access Foundation
Hispanic Federation
IDEASForUs
Imagine Power LLC
Institute for Sustainable Communities
Institute for Sutainable Urban Transformation
Interfaith Power & Light
International Mayan League
La Union Hace La Fuerza
Latino Victory Project
League of Conservation Voters
League of United Latin American Citizens
Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA)
Maine Conservation Voters
Mi Familia Vota
Moms Clean Air Force
Mount Moriah FBH Church
Mt Eastern Joy, LLC
National Hispanic Medical Association
National Ocean Protection
National Parks Conservation Association
Natural Resources Defense Council
NCLR Action Fund
Network for Sustainable Financial Markets
NextGen America
Noble Renewables Group of the West
North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO)
Ocean Conservancy
Oceana
Our Climate
Outdoor Afro
Peoples Climate Movement
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Population Connection
Power Shift Network
Public Citizen
Rachel Carson Council
Rachel’s Network
Radiance Studios LLC
Rainforest Action Network
Roosevelt Institute
Rural Coalition
Sachamama
Save EPA
Sierra Club
Sierra Club Virginia Chapter
Sunrise
Sustainable Agricultural Education Association
Sustainable Practices
SustainUS
The Environmental Justice Center at Chestnut Hill United Church
The Evangelical Environmental Network
The Farmworker Association of Florida, Inc
The Joy Trip Project
The Praxis Project
The Trail Posse
The Wilderness Society
Toxics Action Center
Union of Concerned Scientists
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Virginia Interfaith Power & Light
Virginia League of Conservation Voters
Voces Verdes
Voices for Progress
Voto Latino
Waterkeeper Alliance
WE ACT for Environmental Justice