Bay Area organizers, supporters kick off ‘United Against Hate Week’ in Berkeley

Glo Robinson/Courtesy

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Berkeley residents, students and leaders joined together to kick off  “United Against Hate Week” in an event held at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park on Sunday.

United Against Hate Week is an annual “call for local civic action” to stop hate that may present a threat to local communities, according to the movement’s website. Not In Our Town, or NIOT, community organizer Glo Robinson said the national movement was created last year in response to the violence in Charlottesville, which generated a response in the Bay Area.

NIOT founder Patrice O’Neill said the event was an “unprecedented collaboration” among cities, campuses and communities. The event’s “main goal,” according to Robinson, was to make talking about difficult issues a “social priority.”

Representatives from the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights were also present despite smoke in the air flowing from the Butte County fire. Although O’Neill said she was worried the smoke may keep people from the event, she said the “spirit” of the event was unaffected.

Berkeley High School seniors Roni Weissman, Maren Frye and Taylor Kempf lead its Students Demand Action chapter. The three members said they were present to create a dialogue around gun violence prevention and support the community and activists “calling for a more equal Berkeley.”

Frye said last week’s shooting in Thousand Oaks, California, was particularly mobilizing.

“Violence really does happen everywhere. None of us are exempt. … It’s really important that everyone comes together to support the people that are disproportionately affected,” Frye said.

O’Neill said student engagement, particularly at UC Berkeley, will be important in progressing the United Against Hate movement’s message.

She said getting involved in the movement is a way students who are “passionate about justice” can help to build a “better world.”

“Their engagements this week can have a lasting impact,” O’Neill said. “What they do now will have an impact on the future — not just of Berkeley but our country.”

United Against Hate will also host film screenings, panels and trainings in all corners of the Bay Area. A screening and panel will be held on campus Wednesday, followed by a “bystander training” and lecture on race and “the apparatus of disposability” Thursday.

Beyond serving as hosts for these events, UC Berkeley students have expressed support for the week through an ASUC resolution, sponsored by External Affairs Vice President Nuha Khalfay. Khalfay said in an email that she believes the week’s internal community benefits also encourage neighboring districts to move in a similar direction.

“It is so important that we combine meaningful legislation with action,” Khalfay said in an email. “While the resolution is important for documentation and records, actionable events are equally as important.”

Robinson said she encourages students and residents living in particularly “liberal bastions,” such as Berkeley, to get involved in United Against Hate events this week.

“It’s not to say you’re wrong or right,” Robinson said. “It’s to say, ‘I want to know more. I want to destroy my ignorance, and I want to do something about it.’ ”

Contact Rachel Barber at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @rachelbarber_.