Peace rally underway in Laguna Beach

 

A unity rally got underway near Main Beach in Laguna Beach on Saturday, Aug. 19, a day before a planned “America First! Electric Vigil for the Victims of Illegals and Refugees” event is to be held in the same area.

The “From Charlottesville to Laguna Beach: We Stand Together” rally is being hosted by Indivisible OC 48, Indivisible OC-CA 46, the Laguna Beach Democratic Club, Together We Will Orange County, Women for American Values and Ethics and Orange County Justice Collaborative.

“It’s a rally to support peace, love and equality,” Gary LeFevre, president of the Laguna Beach Democratic Club said.

Rally goers begin assembling on Saturday morning. (Photo by Hannah Madans, Orange County Register/SCNG)
The rally gets underway. (Photo by Hannah Madans, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The decision to host it Saturday, the day before an America First! rally against illegal immigration, was intentional.

“It’s a nice, safe way to have people show up and show their support for equality and not have to interact with the people on Sunday,” LeFevre said.

The rally gets going as participants hoist signs and pose for selfies. (Photo by Hannah Madans, Orange County Register/SCNG)
The rally gets going as participants hoist signs and pose for selfies. (Photo by Hannah Madans, Orange County Register/SCNG)

“Laguna Beach doesn’t tolerate diversity, we embrace diversity,” Laguna Beach Mayor Toni Iselman announced to those assembled Saturday morning.

“We’re here today because we aren’t going to be here tomorrow … dancing with bad guys.”

Sunday’s protesters, she said, “want a fight.”

Her speech was met with a sea of cheers as people held signs saying, “The future is inclusive” and “We are one” higher. Just behind her was a giant “Unity over division, love over hate” banner.

After the first few speakers finished, protesters sang, “This land is your land.”

Joanna Weiss, the founder of Women for American Values and Ethics, said the violence last weekend in Charlottesville motivated her to come out on Saturday.

The 44-year-old San Juan Capistrano resident and stay at home mom brought her 11-year-old daughter with to the rally.

“I wanted to take a stand against white supremacy and for inclusion,” she said. “It’s about showing our children the world we want them to live in. The kids hear about Trump and Charlottesville and they have a lot of questions about the hate coming out of the White House. We have to talk to them about it.”

Trump condemned the white supremacists who incited bloody demonstrations in Charlottesville but he blamed “both sides” for the violence, drawing criticism that he equivocated hate groups with protesters who pushed back against them.

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