LGBTQ community center OutFront Kalamazoo has issued an anti-hate message regarding counter-protests that turned violent against a Proud Boys rally in the city.
Read the full statement below:
Two days ago, violence broke out in downtown Kalamazoo when a rally by alt-right, extremist group “The Proud Boys” was met by counterprotests and police. Despite the efforts of OutFront board member Rev. Nathan Dannison to organize a peaceful, non-violent local response to this hate group, the armed Proud Boys’ presence attracted anti-fascist counter-protesters who were also openly carrying guns. Conflict was inevitable. Local and national media coverage of the clash provided multiple scenes of visible tension, hate-filled confrontation and physical violence.
The events in Kalamazoo were just one instance in the country where racist, far-right extremists clashed between peaceful protesters and police this weekend. Today, our community is still pouring over the details of the altercations and legitimate questions are being raised about public safety and equal justice. The one certainty that has emerged from these troubling events is that we all play a role in establishing that “Hate Has No Home Here!”
The LGBTQ+ community is often the target of hate speech and violence. We also know that freedom from oppression is not a given; it is fought for and defended. Now more than ever we must stand in solidarity with all who speak out against discrimination, harassment, hate and violence. At a time when groups like Proud Boys appear to flourish, there are things we can all do:
1. Educate Ourselves – The Proud Boys is just one of more than 1,600 extremist groups in the U.S. currently tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center. There are at least 27 organized hate groups here in Michigan. Take the time to learn about their tactics and stay informed about their activities.
2. Speak Up – Moments like we witnessed in Kalamazoo can often produce an opportunity for important conversations about race, gender identity or any form of intolerance. Honest dialog can bridge the gap between communities, allies and local law enforcement.
3. Amplify Alternatives – Denounce hate where you see it. Stand together with allies who promote messages that draw attention away from hate, toward justice and unity. “Hate Has No Home Here” is simple and effective.
Together, we can help our world be more equitable and inclusive. We must continue to be brave and stand up to racism, marginalization and oppression whenever we can.