Demonstrators in San Jose protest white supremacist violence at Charlottesville

Protesters gathered Sunday morning in front of San Jose City Hall, responding to the white supremacist rally and violence that occurred Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.

People who learned of the San Jose protest through Facebook and other means gathered outside City Hall, after news of the violence in Virginia spread on social media.

One woman was killed and many other people were injured Saturday in Charlottesville, after a car plowed through a crowd of people who were protesting against the “Unite the Right” rally of extremists.

The San Jose event on Sunday was organized by Indivisible East San Jose, a progressive political group. Catholic parishioners, led by Father Jon Pedigo of the Diocese of San Jose, joined a group of LGBTQ advocates, concerned citizens and musicians leading sing-a-longs.

“It’s unconscionable to let it become the new normal for white supremacists to openly demonstrate as if their ideas are worthy of debate and not centered around denying people their humanity,” said Liz Lepkin of San Jose. “It’s messed up, and unacceptable.”

The San Jose protest was one of hundreds of similar demonstrations nationwide against white supremacy over the weekend. On Saturday night, thousands of people gathered in Oakland, with a fraction of the protesters briefly blocking I-580.

A similar protest occurred in front of Mountain View City Hall on Sunday morning, according to Ellen Turner, an organizer with Indivisible East San Jose.

“We can’t ignore neo-Nazis and white supremacists,” said Turner. “We are great because of the people here. We are a nation of immigrants.”

The protest lasted from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Father Pedigo said he changed his Sunday mass service at San Jose State University’s Newman Center to lead any interested parishioners to City Hall.

One of the protesters, who was with the “Grupo de Solidaridad” bilingual mass, held a public letter to President Donald Trump with signatures at the bottom.

“You have brought shame on our country, unleashed the forces of hatred, the likes of which I have never seen before,” reads the letter. “We need to have leadership that is based on love and justice for all.”

Father Pedigo said the impromptu rally was important to show solidarity with all marginalized groups, not just ones targeted by the white supremacists in Virginia on Saturday.

“They targeted our message about love and unity and diversity,” said Pedigo. “It’s really important, as people of faith, to stand against that kind of evil and call it out as it is.”

After a round of speeches and sing-a-longs, protesters lined up along East Santa Clara Street with their signs. Cars driving by occasionally honked at the protesters, which drew scattered cheers.

The event also drew concerned citizens not affiliated with any organizations.

“What I saw on Twitter and TV from Charlottesville was not American,” said Sudha Jamtihe, a local resident. “I came out here to say this is not normal. When I come here, I feel safe.”

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