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Rally against hate held in Ladner (PHOTOS)

The group says attempts continue to undermine the protections of people won under the Charter and the BC Human Rights Code

The community must come together, take a stand and send a message for what it values.

That was the theme from organizers of an anti-hate rally held Sunday afternoon at Paterson Park in Ladner.

The rally organized by Community Action for Equity and Racial Justice saw about 100 participants march to the Highway 17A overpass to counter on-going flag-waving protests that are said to be spreading misinformation and hate.

Speaking out against attacks on 2SLGBTQIA+ people in Delta and other communities, including several acts of vandalism against Pride flags in Ladner, the group’s Rhiannon Bennett told the Optimist the community must come together and respond to the events spreading hate, rather than hope the government will take action.

“We would rather send the message ourselves that this is what our community stands for and these are our community values. Yes, it’s up to all of us. I would rather our community come together,” Bennett explained.

Bennett has personally confronted the individuals on the Ladner overpass, saying the community response has been one of deep gratitude.

Among the group’s strategies is establishing community escorts across the overpass, said Bennett.

Another plan is to print photos and other material from Sunday’s event and distribute them to gay-straight alliances at high schools throughout the Delta district, spreading a message to kids that they’re not alone and isolated.

Those who had been holding rallies on the overpass and elsewhere have been deliberately spreading misinformation, which has resulted to intimidation and against certain groups, said Kendal Blacker, adding she personally has encountered aggression. Sunday’s rally was to let people know they belong, will be kept safe and that the community needs to get together to take a stand, she explained.

While the 2SLGBTQIA+ community has been getting more support from the public, unfortunately, others are feeling more emboldened to act out in hate, added Blacker.

“I’m encouraged that when I was out in the community, there was so much support, and so many people who wanted to support but don’t know how. The way they can take a stand against this is calling out hate, calling out homophobia, calling out transphobia, calling out racism, having conversations with their families and co-workers. Those are those on-the-ground things people can do to push against hate speech and propaganda and showing up to events like this is one way. We need those people to speak up for us because they have the most impact,” said Blacker.

Bennett, during to the rally, asked the audience why they are there, getting immediate responses that, among other things, it was to spread love, stand up against hate and build community.

Earlier this summer, a Delta resident asked city council whether any action can be taken to stop Action for Canada demonstrations on the Ladner overpass.

Saying he and council have “total support for the Pride community”, Mayor George Harvie responded the problem has come up with other groups as well, but the authority to remove or fine the demonstrators is with the minister of transportation because the province owns the overpass.

Harvie said he has discussed the issue with Police Chief Neil Dubord and would also discuss the community’s concern with the transportation minister.

In May, the BC Supreme Court granted the provincial government an injunction to stop demonstrators from conducting their months-long display of anti-trans and COVID-19 denial signs on a highway overpass in North Vancouver.