Mayors of Vallejo and Benicia join 150 to say no to hate groups

Vigil announcement

A Unity Vigil drew 150 citizens from Vallejo and Benicia on Sunday evening, August 13.  The crowd expressed solidarity and heartfelt outrage following the violent white supremacist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay rally in Charlottesville, VA last week.

Of particular note was the presence of the Mayors of both cities.  Mayor Elizabeth Patterson represented Benicia, and Mayor Bob Sampayan represented Vallejo.

The Benicia Independent stands firm in opposition to the moral depravity of white nationalism, the KKK and neo Nazi ideologies.

• From the Benicia Herald (appearing in the print edition only):

Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson addresses the crowd at an informal vigil Sunday evening in Vallejo’s Unity Plaza. The event was put on in response to a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. over the weekend that resulted in – among other things – a car being intentionally driven into a crowd of protesters, injuring 19 people and killing 32-year-old legal assistant Heather Heyer. The event was organized by Vallejo Benicia Indivisible and Benicia Indivisible for Justice and also featured speeches by Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan and Vallejo Poet Laureate Genea Brice. A moment of silence for Heyer was held at 7 p.m. | Photo courtesy of Vallejo Benicia Indivisible

• From the Vallejo Times-Herald:

Vigil Held in Support of Charlottesville – Vallejoans fill Unity Plaza to stand against bigotry, hate

Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan addresses a group of residents during a unity vigil Sunday evening in Vallejo.
Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan addresses a group of residents during a unity vigil Sunday evening in Vallejo. | John Glidden — Times-Herald
By John Glidden, 08/13/17, 10:28 PM PDT 

With the classic “We Shall Overcome” as their rallying cry, Vallejoans took to Unity Plaza Sunday night to take on the hate they had seen on their TV screens over the weekend.

About 150 residents sang the legendary civil rights anthem, denouncing the bigotry ­— and violence ­— that led to tragedy Saturday in Charlottesville, Va.

The gathering was in response to the death of Heather Heyer, who was intentionally hit by a car Saturday while she protested a white supremacist rally.

“Was I mad? Hell yes. Did I put blame? Hell yes. Did I point my finger at certain people in our (presidential) administration? Yes, I did,” Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan said, attempting to stifle his tears. “But do I hate? No. Because that, my friends, is what caused Heather’s demise. Hatred.”

Sampayan lauded the ethnic diversity of Sunday’s vigil participants.

“That’s what really makes me proud,” he added.

Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson also spoke, proudly proclaiming that “Benicia and Vallejo stand together.”

Patterson said she has no idea how to stop the type of hate shown in Charlottesville during Saturday’s white nationalist rally which caused bloody clashes with counter protesters.

“I am looking for your help and your ideas because even though it happened across the country, we have to be prepared for what could happen here,” Patterson added. “I’m worried.”

Vallejo activist and Neighborhood Rising founder Hakeem Brown expressed determination that the events in Charlottesville would not come to Vallejo.

“It’s our responsibility to make sure hate doesn’t take root in Vallejo,” he said to applause. Brown said a divided America allowed for the election of President Donald Trump.

“Our division aided his rise,” Brown said.

He urged residents to stand together and vote to overcome the hate he says Trump and his supporters are spreading.

Several in attendance carried signs, calling for unity and/or for love. Those who addressed the audience stood in front of a large American flag.

At exactly 7 p.m., a moment of silence for 32 seconds temporarily stopped the speeches, as those assembled remembered the 32-year-old Heyer.

Genea Brice, the city’s inaugural poet laureate, was incredulous as she spoke about Heyer’s death.

“Somebody died because they were standing for what they believed in,” Brice said. “Somebody used a car as a weapon.”

Brice then read a poem she wrote about unity.

She said the events in Virginia will not happen “because we are standing together.”