300 people packed the Chinese Culture Center in San Francisco Friday night to stand up to White supremacy.
In cold winds and under dark skies, they made the brief walk from CCC to the Portsmouth Square Bridge where they lit the night with hope for a better and more inclusive country.
Singing We Shall Overcome and We Are the World, they held up LED candles and, with urging from Rev Norman Fong of the Chinatown Neighborhood Development Center, greeted strangers as friends.
The crowd extended nearly half the length of the bridge which begins from the third floor of the Hilton Hotel and goes across Kearny Street to Portsmouth Square.
“Hate has no place here and we must speak out,” Clifford Yee of OCA San Francisco said to the crowd before the candlelight vigil. “If we stay silent, that means we are complacent. We must do it for young people.”
The night included video recaps of this month’s car attack in Charlottesville, Virginia by a White supremacist that left one dead and 19 others injured.
Several speakers placed the blame clearly on President Trump who they say has set a tone giving a national forum to White nationalists.
With her voice shaking with emotion, San Francisco Supervisor Sandra Fewer condemned the President’s late Friday night pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio is the sheriff from Arizona convicted of contempt of court for violating a court order barring him from conducting further immigration round ups.
“I hardly recognize us as a country anymore,” she said. She vowed not to be deterred by the increasing hate mail she has received for her condemnation of the president.
“We really have to do something,” she said to cheers. “It is time to get off the sofa. It’s time not to be afraid. Bring it on. I’m ready.”
A participant in the Chinese Progressive Association’s Workers Rights Program described how she has not always felt welcomed in the United States. She recalled being spit on by Whites passing her in a speeding car.
“People of color need to unite and resist and raise our voice before change can happen,” said Angela through an interpreter.
It was a sentiment echoed by many other speakers.
“We cannot be bystanders. We cannot sit idly by,” said Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb. “Millions of people must continually show up whenever White supremacy shows itself. Let us light up the night for the sake of our children and our children’s children.”
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