Davis Unity Rally joins many, divides a few

Hundreds gathered in Davis to unite against hate and racism.

Several hundred people gathered in Davis' Central Park Wednesday night, to unite against hatred and racism in the wake of the deadly violence in Charlottesville.

At the back of the crowd, away from the poets and politicians who were speaking, I - ABC10 reporter Becca Habegger - got a glimpse into the kind of frank conversation that's happening in many communities across the nation.

As it turns out, not everyone's version of unity looks the same.

You may have seen Alan Hirsch at a farmers' market in Davis or Sacramento. He's the guy with the yard signs.

"This is a 'Love Your Neighbor' sign," he said, holding up a placard. "I always put an American flag on it to show that these are American values."

His other signs include one that says, "Support Science: Defend the Earth." Another one has the phrase, "No matter, where you are from, we're glad you're our neighbor," in five different languages.

"I've given out over 1,300, and I've been doing this since February of this year," he said.

He also has a pamphlet with nine ways to resist Trump, so he makes no secret of where he stands.

"I have at least one family member who's a Trump supporter, you know, and it's hard for me to understand that," Hirsch admitted.

Despite that, he said, he wants to talk with people who see the world differently than he does.

"I like to have conversations with them," he explained. "I listen to them and I try to understand their point of view, even though I might radically disagree. But I learn a lot from people and I always ask where they get their information."

He was handing out signs at the Unity Rally in Davis Wednesday night.

One Davis family, however, decided to leave the rally right as it was starting.

Bob and Sylvia Glynn had spoken earlier that evening with Hirsch and approached his table at the back of the crowd to say goodbye.

"Thank you very much for the good conversation," Hirsch said, shaking Bob Glynn's hand.

"Yeah, we're leaving because the sign, 'Black Lives Matter,'" Glynn said, referencing a large banner hanging prominently behind the speakers at the rally.

With distaste in his voice, Glynn then referenced a chant some participants at BLM marches have used, in reference to police, "'Pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon'?"

"I'm sorry you can't stay," Hirsch said genuinely.

The Glynns had come to the unity rally to show support for the local Jewish community in the wake of recent antisemitic remarks by an imam at a Davis mosque last month. That religious leader has since publicly apologized.

When the Glynns arrived at the rally, they saw the Black Lives Matter banner and took offense.

The Glynns said they feel the unity rally and signs of love don't include them, as Trump supporters.

"It's only love if you're on the left," Sylvia Glynn said. "That's how I'm feeling."

Hirsch said he hopes people with different views can have respectful conversations.

"We need to learn how to dialogue with people who are different, and this is the first step," he said, pointing to his Love Your Neighbor sign. "If you have a sign like this, you've opened the door for a dialogue."

At this unity rally, however, the Glynns didn't feel welcome to talk.

"If they come to our house now because we're on Channel 10 News and spray paint something on, can we call you and you come out and interview us again?" Glynn asked me. "Because things like that happen in Davis. When we try to speak out, the other side doesn't want to hear us, our side."

In a nation so divided, open, respectful conversation between opposing sides might go a long way.

Hirsch approached me after I spoke with the Glynns.

"Do you know what our nation's motto is?" he asked. "e pluribus unum: out of many, one."

He smiled and returned to his table of signs.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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