Charlottesville is just around the corner
The tragedy of deaths and maimings at Charlottesville could have been prevented. All that would have been necessary, would be for the city and university there to unequivocally decree, “No, your hate and violence is not welcome here. We refuse your gift. If you come here and create trouble, disrupting the peace, we will arrest you and you will have chosen to lose your freedom.” Such a simple refusal of hate would have been sufficient. No helicopter would have crashed. No car would have rammed into 20 people, killing a woman. Billions of hours of anguish and unproductivity in this country could have been avoided.
The buck has to stop somewhere; otherwise, hate groups, drunk on blood and tacit approval, are emboldened. The Bay has a chance to do this. August 26th and 27th, the fascist group “Unite the Right” has made tentative plans to descend upon San Francisco and Berkeley. If Charlottesville is any indication, “containment” by placating these criminals will have about as much success as the West’s appeasement to Germany when they invaded Poland, sparking World War II.
The Bay Area has an opportunity to put the kibosh on these deadly, incendiary, neo-Nazi rallies once and for all. But it requires courage on the part of our city leaders and police force. We need to in no uncertain terms broadcast that hate groups will not be allowed to gather, and subject these foreign invaders to the same rules we impose on our local citizens. Especially those of our nonwhite neighbors. If hate group people come, our police must shut them down, arrest those who refuse to disperse, and search those they suspect of carrying weapons. Just like they have at countless peaceful protests for social and environmental justice.
Police who enjoy the pay and privilege of defending and serving their community must not shirk from violent white men. Indeed, their very raison d’etat is to protect and serve — not to provide cover for criminal invaders. Unless our police demonstrate the discipline to shut-down the hateful speech and deadly violence of neo-Nazis and their clan, they do not deserve the title or role of protectors of our cities and communities. For too long, the radical asymmetry between defending white instigangersters and suppressing protests by people of color has been a stain on Bay Area police forces. Yes, it makes sense our police may be leery of angry white men with guns. But for too long in this country, people of color have been de facto performing the de jure jobs of police: policing the evils of white supremacy. If the police need help, call in the National Guard — that’s what it’s there for.
We need to stop making safe spaces for hate. As one sign at the Women’s March back in January said: “Hate makes spaces unsafe. So why should we make safe spaces for hate?” The Bay Area fancies itself allied as Sanctuary Cities, and now is the time to prove that these declarations actually mean something concrete. It is high time our cities in the Bay stand up for the values our gracious community stands for. Failing to do so delivers our city over to those violent intruders making our place unsafe.