Berkeley College Republicans vigil for Kate Steinle sparks controversy

Berkeley College Republicans/Courtesy

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Berkeley College Republicans, or BCR, held a candlelight vigil for Kate Steinle on Thursday evening, garnering criticism from local activists.

The vigil took place on the steps of Sproul Hall, where participants laid down flowers and candles in memory of Steinle, who was fatally shot in San Francisco in 2015. Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who was initially charged in connection with Steinle’s death, was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges Nov. 30. BCR held the vigil in light of Garcia Zarate’s acquittal, according to BCR external vice president Naweed Tahmas.

“We were appalled and disappointed by the decision not to charge (Garcia Zarate) with murder or, at the very least, manslaughter,” Tahmas said. “We don’t want her name or memory to be forgotten.”

BCR arranged candles to spell out Steinle’s name and, according to Tahmas, organized a signed poster to send to the district attorney in the hopes that their condolences would reach the Steinle family. BCR organized the event without the family’s coordination, although Tahmas said BCR had tried to reach out to them.

About 20 people attended the vigil, which was met with both support and opposition from local activists. Raphael Kadaris, a member of Refuse Fascism, condemned BCR for politicizing Steinle’s death. He and two other members of the group held banners to demonstrate their support of immigration.

“These people don’t care about Kate Steinle,” Kadaris said. “They are using the tragic death of Kate Steinle to incite hatred and bigotry against immigrants.”

A crowd formed around Kadaris, whose banners accused Republicans of justifying “ethnic cleansing” and called for an end to the Donald Trump-Mike Pence administration. Kadaris also initiated an argument with the Refuse Fascism protesters about fascism. Bay Area resident Jeanne Solnordal, who said she attended the vigil because of the “unfair” verdict, engaged with Kadaris in debate and said she found his presence “disrespectful.”

BCR member Chase Aplin said he believed that the jury’s decision was an “injustice.” Aplin said he also believed “political vindictiveness” against Trump motivated the jury’s decision to release Garcia Zarate.

“Certain deaths should be politicized,” Aplin said. “This is a death that if the policies I support were in play, she would still be alive.”

Cal Berkeley Democrats president Caiden Nason briefly attended the event and expressed disapproval at the organization of the vigil, which he claimed “politicized” Steinle’s death against her family’s will.

Nason alleged that BCR was not hosting the event out of “the kindness of their heart,” but in order to provoke a response.

“I think there are good questions about whether the verdict was right, but this is not an immigration case and shouldn’t be turned into one,” said Nason. “A protest is only going to further politicize this awful thing that happened to this family.”

Contact Sophia Brown-Heidenreich at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sophiabrownh.

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  • Toro

    with every passing day, I become more and more comfortable with the idea of allowing Kim Jong to do us the favor of nuking San Fran Sicko, and ridding us of that disgusting tumor of a city and the horrid, wretched people that reside in it

  • SecludedCompoundTTYS

    “These people don’t care about Kate Steinle,” Kadaris said. “They are using the tragic death of Kate Steinle to incite hatred and bigotry against immigrants.”

    Wow, only Democrats can care about anything. You guys are so out of reality; it truly boggles my mind.

    • Toro

      it also doesn’t explain why those savage animals protested the vigil then vandalized the memorial

  • intec

    call in ice. have them deport all illegal immigrents attending the university. then give those slots to american citizens.

  • rychastings

    the fact that the liberals are trying to decry a vigil shows the true colors of the left

  • BerkPed
    • lspanker

      Another substance-free rant makes it clear as to why the only upvotes you ever get are from the usual hard-left fruitcake trolls…

    • Bobby

      My god liberals are the worst. You people can’t even let some students hold a peaceful memorial without barging in and screaming racism at everyone. So glad Trump won.

  • garyfouse

    And the poster of Kate put up by the CR was torn down within one day. Shame.

    This is not about attacking immigrants. The killer was a repeat criminal who had been deported 5-6 times, returned and was not turned over to ICE when the SF legal system released him from custody. This is about sanctuary policies leading to the deaths of innocents.

    What another shameful blot on this university.

    • D.Plorable

      Media complicity is critical as well. This case was made into a “poster child” as it was the least malevolent version of the story that could be told, as opposed to ones like these

      SF just convicted a quintuple-homicide illegal alien criminal who was on the street because Viet Nam refused to issue travel docs, (though he would have been protected under “sanctuary” as well, this is called a “non-deportable”. Zero national coverage of the case or the issue in general–there are over 100K of these loose in the US, China is the #1 abuser, followed by India, Pakistan, Iran, Cuba, Viet Nam, and Cambodia. Our “trading partners”. Relevant statute says State Dept is to retaliate by not issuing travel docs to offending state but no admin since Reagan has done anything about it, the Clintons amnestied all the Chinese already in the country on the promise that China would start taking them back which they immediately went back on and just as immediately the State Dept didn’t do anything. Going out the door the Obama DHS testified they were finally going to retaliate in ONE case vs…Ghana.

      The issue of the “non-deportables” is not even discussed in the “mainstream” corporate outlets. We are a doormat for the worst criminal dregs that the rest of the world can dump here.

  • BerkPed

    The saddest, most ironic thing about this demonstration is that it occurred in front of the UC PD Chief’s office — she, just like the BLM officer, foolishly left a gun in a parked car and lost it in a theft.

    Police need to take responsibility for their weapons

    “UC Berkeley Police Chief Margo Bennett had her gun, badge, ammunition
    and other items stolen during a car burglary at Point Isabel Regional
    Shoreline in Richmond.”

    “John William Woychowski Jr., a ranger for the federal Bureau of Land
    Management, took the stand Thursday to answer Assistant District
    Attorney Diana Garcia’s questions about the car break-in that resulted
    in the theft of his .40-caliber Sig Sauer handgun four days before
    Steinle was shot.”

    • California Defender

      Worse is that our state and nation are not taking responsibility for securing our borders.

      If that had been done, the gun would have never been stolen and Kate would be alive along with countless more victims of illegal immigration.

  • BerCaley

    Odd that the only picture of the memorial ‘vigil’ poster is halfway into the landfill slot. It sure seems like thems that posted it were also thems that trashed it and then were thems that complained about it.

  • Left Unsaid

    Cut the U’s funding. Its about indoctrination, not education.

  • Nunya Beeswax

    “Oh, you were aiming at a *seal* and only hit a *person* by mistake…well, that’s okay then.”

  • lspanker
    • Wee Willie

      because you are lying, that’s good enough reason TROLL!

      • lspanker

        Did you read the links? Do you really think those sources are lying?

      • roccolore

        Fascist Democrats like you are the liars who support illegal alien criminals.

      • SecludedCompoundTTYS

        “These people don’t care about Kate Steinle,” Kadaris said. “They are using the tragic death of Kate Steinle to incite hatred and bigotry against immigrants.”

        Do you believe you area bigot and hateful toward immigrants if you are against sanctuary cities and/or illegal immigration? I’m so confused. Democrats never use ANYTHING for political preening /s. Literally, this is the most ironic article EVER.

      • Toro

        he provided links with video and photos, you subhuman mongoloid