‘You can see the cowardness’

Community unites against anticipated white-nationalist rally at Bluff Park.

Counter-protesters+held+signs+at+a+rally+held+to+defend+a+%E2%80%98hate+free+LBC%E2%80%99+in+response+to+an+anticipated+white-nationalist+rally+at+Bluff+Park+on+Sunday%2C+April+28.
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‘You can see the cowardness’

Counter-protesters held signs at a rally held to defend a ‘hate free LBC’ in response to an anticipated white-nationalist rally at Bluff Park on Sunday, April 28.

Counter-protesters held signs at a rally held to defend a ‘hate free LBC’ in response to an anticipated white-nationalist rally at Bluff Park on Sunday, April 28.

Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune

Counter-protesters held signs at a rally held to defend a ‘hate free LBC’ in response to an anticipated white-nationalist rally at Bluff Park on Sunday, April 28.

Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune

Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune

Counter-protesters held signs at a rally held to defend a ‘hate free LBC’ in response to an anticipated white-nationalist rally at Bluff Park on Sunday, April 28.

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They marched through Bluff Park, carrying signs that read “Nazi Free LBC” and chanting in solidarity “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.” Some drivers passing by honking in support, while others spat vulgarities at the crowd rallying together along Ocean Boulevard.

Dozens of community members gathered on the morning of Sunday, April 28, at Bluff Park in response to an anticipated white-nationalist rally. An increased amount of police patrolled Bluff Park and the neighborhoods surrounding the area.

The rally was being organized through a since-deleted Facebook event created by the United Patriot National Front (UPNF), a far-right group that has been linked to white nationalism and includes people like Antonio Foreman, who incited violence at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, killing one and leaving 28 others injured.

Word spread of the upcoming rally and, in response, safety-alert flyers began circulating throughout Long Beach and social media, delivering the message, “Gather with our community in resistance at Bluff Park! Outnumber them!”

Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune
Counter-protesters marched to defend a ‘hate free LBC’ in response to an anticipated white-nationalist rally at Bluff Park on Sunday, April 28.

The protesters got their wish, as the UPNF did not show up to Bluff Park.

“You can see the cowardness,” said Yota One, a former Long Beach resident and member of the Zulu Union. “Once they found out this was happening, like all cowards, they just decided not to show up.”

One, who currently lives in Norwalk, found out about the rally through Twitter.

“You can’t just sit at home when something like this is going on,” One said. “This is my home. It’s not a tolerated situation here. This is a place of community. Bluff Park– this is yoga park, and you’re trying to do a far-right, nationalist movement here? That’s never going to happen.”

One was one of the individuals leading the march at Bluff Park, carrying a banner that read “Trump-Pence Must Go.”

Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune
Counter-protesters marched through Bluff Park to defend a ‘hate free LBC’ in response to an anticipated white-nationalist rally on Sunday, April 28.

“Just to hate someone based off of color, sexual preference– it’s not only annoying, it’s just old-fashioned,” One said, “and it goes all the way to our president currently– he helps breed this. The rise of white nationalism has gone up within the last year and a half.”

Other residents agreed with One, such as Alice Greening, a Long Beach resident, who told the Signal Tribune that, “Trump has stirred it up. He’s made the crazies on the fringe come out openly and recruit others to their ranks, and it’s sad. He’s been a disaster in so many ways, especially in stirring up hate.”

Greening found out about the rally through Facebook. She decided to attend after learning about the synagogue shooting that occurred the day prior in San Diego, leaving one person dead.

“After what happened […], I felt I really had to be out here and show solidarity,” she said. “We have to stand up against racism and fascism.”

Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune
Protesters spoke against white-nationalism Sunday at Bluff Park.

Diversity was a key term among the counter-protesters who attended the rally.

In an interview with the Signal Tribune, John, who only wanted to be identified by his first name, said, “I’m from Kentucky. I’m brown. I would expect [racism] where I’m from, but not from one of the most diverse cities in the country.”

Racism is also what prompted John to move to Southern California in the first place, he said.

“The progressiveness, the values– it’s the reason I moved here, and there’s no room for this [white nationalism] here,” he said. “They do have freedom of speech, just like anybody, but we have the freedom to counter-protest, so I felt I had to stand up.”

The diversity among the participants was apparent, as well, ranging from all ages and an array of ethnicities standing behind the same cause.

One said: “You have whites, blacks, browns, gays, straights all in this one little sector that are coming against the one thing that everyone can get behind and its unity and to get out the hate.”