Organizers in New Westminster, BC have shown how to build community against Nazis. With just four days notice, on a chilly Thursday evening, over 200 people rallied at City Hall and marched to a church that had been defaced with Nazi posters.
Every little racist is crawling out from under their rocks now that Trump has been elected, and over the weekend of January 21 one or two crawled around New Westminster and put up a few Nazi posters near the Queen St United Church.
One poster showed soldiers with swastikas on their arms confronting armed men or women wearing head scarves. The other showed a key shaped like a swastika promoting “National Socialism” entitled the key to a new Canada.
Two local organizers sprang into action, Brynn Bourke and Local NDP MLA Judy Darcy. Within hours of the news breaking of the Nazi posters they organized a rally for Thursday January 26. The Facebook event and posters called for a New West United for equality, diversity and community.
Any serious opposition to fascists must involve the people of the community that the fascists are targeting. The organizers were able to bring in representatives of many communities in New West. The speakers at the rally included Jagdeep Sall from Gurdwara Sahib Sukh Sagar, Rhonda Larrabee Chief of the Qayqayt First Nation, Imam Yahya Momla from the Burnaby Mosque, Rabbi David Mivasair, Reverend Emilie Smith from St. Barnabas Church, Imtiaz Popat from New West Pride, New Westminster - Burnaby MP Peter Julian, Jonathon Cote Mayor of New Westminster, and Judy Darcy, MLA.
Even a half dozen members of the New Westminster home brew club, Brew West, joined the rally to defend their city from racism.
Imam Yahya Momla from the Burnaby Mosque told the crowd about how his grandfather told him stories of how the Jewish community was targeted in Canada. He continued, “We learn from past mistakes. Now we build bridges, even when some are building walls.”
Imam Momla and Reverend Smith, along with the other faith leaders at the rally, are not intimidated by the Nazis, they all invited whoever put up the posters into their office to talk things over.
Reverend Emilie Smith from St. Barnabas Church referred to the slogan on one of the Nazi posters, which read “us versus them,” she said, “there is no them, only us.”
Peter Julian, MP for New Westminster – Burnaby, “Hundreds of people have come together with only a few days notice because we know what we have to do. We speak out whether it’s against racists skulking around in the dark, or the new President of the United States in broad daylight.”
Rabbi David Mivasair was the final speaker. He ended his remarks by introducing the crowd to the ancient Jewish instrument of the Shofar, a ram’s horn bugle. He said that it was used to wake people up and in an emergency to “bring people to a state of militant readiness.” The haunting tones of the horn echoed off the surrounding high rises over the sound of traffic.
The New West Community Choir ended the rally, involving the crowd in song and Judy Darcy wrapped it all up, “We will come back together whenever and wherever we need to.”
As the rally dispersed after the short march up to the church, everyone was left with the joy of solidarity against hatred. New West is well organized for when next the Nazis try to slither out from under their rocks.