The city of Berkeley announced a community initiative to address hate crimes, urging other Bay Area cities to join it in its participation in United Against Hate Week this November.
Berkeley is set to kick-start United Against Hate Week on Nov. 11 at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park, initiating a weeklong event. During this time, the city of Berkeley aims to direct residents to take action against hate crimes by providing them with the tools, resources and support crucial to resisting the “growing intolerance” in their communities, according to a press release from Mayor Jesse Arreguín’s office.
United Against Hate Week is a result of an initiative taken by the city of Berkeley in fall 2017 in response to violent protests between members of the political far-right and far-left. In 2017, artists Lena Wolff and Lexi Visco created a poster with the words “Berkeley Stands United Against Hate” as a positive way for the community to resist intolerance.
This year, the city of Berkeley will collaborate with Not In Our Town, a project of Oakland-based nonprofit The Working Group, to organize United Against Hate Week.
Community members will work with civic leaders, businesses and schools to “restore respect and civil discourse, embrace the strength of (Berkeley’s) diversity, and build inclusive and equitable communities for all,” according to Arreguín’s press release.
“We have come too far as a nation and fought too hard to go back to a time when so many Americans lived in fear because of the prejudices held by their neighbors,” Arreguín said in the press release. “This movement is a call to action for everyday people to use art, music, discussions, and anything else that inspires them to let would-be agitators know that hate has no place in our communities.”
Other cities in the East Bay, including Albany and Oakland, will participate in the event. Alameda County and Marin County will also join the weeklong event.
On Nov. 14, Castro Valley will host a poetry slam followed by a United Against Hate Walk on Nov. 15 at the Castro Valley Library. The city of Fremont will host a bystander intervention training Nov. 14 at the Temple Beth Torah, where participants will practice bystander de-escalation techniques and learn about the history of nonviolence. These events will be carried out in hopes of inspiring more Bay Area communities to do the same, according to Arreguín’s press release.
When asked about events such as United Against Hate Week, ASUC External Affairs Vice President Nuha Khalfay noted the importance of community involvement.
“When it comes to large political movements like combating hate speech or hate crime, … you have to be working on a multipronged approach,” Khalfay said. “Events like United Against Hate Week are really important because they involve every community member.”