Hundreds flood Berkeley streets for community march against white supremacy

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Nikhar Arora/Staff

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Hundreds of demonstrators flooded Telegraph Avenue on Saturday afternoon for a community march against white supremacy.

The march, which began at the intersection of 63rd and Adeline streets, was organized to celebrate Berkeley’s multiracial, multicultural, queer, trans, disabled and interfaith communities, according to the event’s Facebook page. About 2 p.m., the crowd of protesters had grown to about 300 people, according to a Nixle alert from Berkeley Police Department, and it began heading northbound on Telegraph Avenue toward the UC Berkeley campus.

BPD released another Nixle alert about 3 p.m., announcing that between 100-200 protesters were blocking Telegraph Avenue and Bancroft Way, causing BPD to close Bancroft Way from Bowditch Street west, Durant Avenue from Dana Street east and College Avenue at Channing Way for northbound traffic.

Cat Brooks, co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project, attended the march and said she wanted to defend anti-fascist forces against misrepresentation in the media and the pepper spray policy that Berkeley City Council recently passed.

“Today’s a celebration of unity in our community and a resounding ‘no’ to bigotry and intolerance in the Bay Area,” Brooks said. “I hope there’s unity across race and class.”

Some people who attended the march referenced the recent right-wing conservative speakers who have spoken or intended to speak on campus, such as Milo Yiannopoulos, who intends to speak on campus Sept. 24.

Katrin Wehrheim, campus associate professor of mathematics who also attended the march, acknowledged the lack of campus STEM professors’ response to the situation.

“That’s on them. I know I need to stand up to fascism,” Wehrheim said. “I was born German. People were talking precisely like my grandmothers were when Hitler got elected.”

Chelsea Manning, who was convicted by court-martial in July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act after disclosing to WikiLeaks nearly 750,000 classified (or unclassified but sensitive) military and diplomatic documents, spoke at the march, emphasizing the need to fight for the right to speak.

Pablo Espinoza, one of the organizers of the march, said that the protest was organized to respond to the recent right-wing presence in the area.

“I never thought we’d be here in 2017 marching against white supremacy again,” said Berkeley City Councilmember Cheryl Davila, who also attended the march. “It was important to give the message that we’re not going to sit quietly.”

Davila emphasized that the march was a peaceful event.

BPD issued a Nixle alert about 3:40 p.m., announcing that the protesters had dispersed and the march had ended. All roadways south of the campus area that had been impacted by the protest are now open to traffic.

 

Check back for updates.

Contact Sam Levin, Jared Brewer, Harini Shyamsundar and Chantelle Lee at [email protected].