El Cerrito Shows Up: Join Us!

El Cerrito Shows Up, a weekly rally held next to a busy intersection where El Cerrito, Richmond, and Albany converge, was sparked by the fury and grief that erupted after a white supremacist murdered Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia. Buoyed by the outpouring of strength and solace many felt from coming together at a candlelight vigil in support of the Charlottesville protestors, several activists started EC Shows Ups to offer a place in the heart of their community where people could “speak out for equality, justice, inclusiveness and more, and to stand against hatred & bigotry.”

Two weeks after Heyer’s murder, the first EC Shows Up protest was held, and people have continued to Show Up every Wednesday since, other than pausing for a few dark winter weeks. The Show Ups started again on Valentine’s Day, chosen for the symbolic impact of showing love for each other and for all whose lives and rights are under attack by the current administration and majority party. Several families, kids and all, are regulars, and local politicians, including Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia and the more progressive El Cerrito city council members, occasionally drop by to show their support. Many passing cars honk to show their support as well, and the group cheers when an AC Transit bus driver pulling up to the nearby bus stop honks! There’s never a shortage of outrages to protest, or of vulnerable groups to support, whether it’s DACA, gun control, the tax scam, impeachment, the environment …. Most people bring their own handmade signs, and there are usually extras to share, as well as some sign-making materials.

El Cerrito Shows Up

You are invited to Show Up, every Wednesday at the west entrance to El Cerrito Plaza, intersection of San Pablo & Carlson, on the sidewalk near Daiso. All are welcome; the only requirement is to agree to assemble lawfully and commit to non-violent and respectful conduct. On March 7, 2018, Show Up from 5:30 to 6:30 PM; then starting March 14, 2018 and ongoing after that, from 6 to 7 PM. Follow the EC Shows Up Facebook page and events listings for updates.

IEB member George, who has attended every EC Shows Up, gives his personal take on the genesis of the rallies, and explains why he keeps showing up:

Last August’s events in Charlottesville shocked, frightened, and angered my wife Heidi and me. We watched the rise of the fascist hydra since before and after Trump’s election. The fascists were emboldened, determined, and most alarmingly, uncovered. No longer afraid to hide in the shadows, they left their bandanas and Klan hoods at home. Then, that weekend in Charlottesville: three people were dead.

George drew connections between Virginia, the nationwide rise in fascist attacks, and locally, the murder of an African American man outside a tavern in El Sobrante by at least three white men wearing MAGA hats.  

We turned our desperate need to respond to the horrors in Charlottesville, and to be with others who felt the same, into action. Nearly 120 people showed up at the candlelight vigil that we called for in our small neighborhood park. We shared our feelings as we stood in a large circle in the dark, with our candles burning.

George recalls talking to many people after the vigil who wanted to gather regularly. He said, “we needed to be present, unafraid and unmasked, with others who shared our outrage at and terror of the Trump administration. We needed a consistent presence to let the government, local and afar, know that WE ARE HERE and WE ARE NOT GOING AWAY!” Within a few days the connections drawn from Charlottesville to a small park in El Cerrito resulted in El Cerrito Shows Up.

Charlottesville candellight circle

And since an army of resisters marches on its stomach, George threw in a final enticement: “the Off The Grid food trucks are a mere block away on Wednesdays! Bring the family and friends, have dinner and exercise your First Amendment rights with other loving committed people.”

Standing in Solidarity with Charlottesville

Heather HeyerShortly after the 2016 election Heather Heyer posted the words “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention” on her Facebook page, and because white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr murdered Heather by ramming his car into her and fellow counter-protesters as they stood up to the Nazis and white nationalists who brought violence and hatred to Charlottesville, those words are now her last on that forum.

We ARE paying attention, and the events of August 12 have shocked and horrified – and yes Heather, outraged us. But the many hundreds of vigils and marches across the country held last weekend, with more being planned every day, prove that we are vast in number. They console us and firm our resolve.Charlottesville events mapWe are indivisible against white supremacists and Nazis, and the tacit approval this administration provides for them. We are outraged by the pitiful, too-little too-late bleatings of Trump in (not) calling out Fields’ attack, in continuing to employ extremists Steven Bannon, Sebastian Gorka and Steven Miller in his administration.

Many vigils were held in the Bay Area. IEB member Heidi reports on one — Charlottesville candellight circleMore than 120 people flocked to our candlelight circle at sundown in an El Cerrito neighborhood park. We began with a moment of silence, then people spoke out about the effects of hatred on our lives and the need to stand up and fight back, particularly for our children.Charlottesville candellight circleAn immigrant from Germany spoke with horror about seeing Nazis in his adopted country, and discussed the law imposed on Germans after the fall of the Third Reich prohibiting public display of Nazi symbols. The voice of a 93-year old veteran of World War II was filled with grief as he talked about defeating Nazis in his youth, only to find them infesting our country at the end of his life.Charlottesville candellight circleOthers read poems or talked with strength and passion about their fears and resolve, and we sang together. Charlottesville candellight circleAnd throughout we held our candles high to fight the darkness.