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Crowd gathers to rally against racism across the street from Tower Theater on Aug. 26, 2017. The crowd joined together with chants and picket signs. (Daniel Avalos/ The Collegian)

Rallying through peace, Fresno State protesters stand against hate

As Charlottesville, Virginia recovers from racial violence, Fresno’s Tower District bloomed Saturday morning with unity at a rally against white supremacy.

“I wish all the rallies were as well-organized and coordinated as this one,” said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

The event involving more than 200 people ended with the same intentions of both organizers and law enforcement: peacefully.

Dyer said he was happy to see the public interacting well with law enforcement. The chief was welcomed by many handshakes, pictures and “thank yous.”

“We meet with the organizers and found out what they want – and what their expectations are,” Dyer said. “Then we shared with them what our expectations are and how we can help them have a safe event.”

One of the rally organizers, Simone Cranston-Rhodes, took part in planning the rally after seeing the different racial issues occurring across the country.

“Our rally was organized in response to the events in Charlottesville and the white supremacist rallies that are happening across the nation,” Cranston-Rhodes said.

She preferred the Tower District as the backdrop for an event where individuals came and reflected on their differences.

“We wanted to provide something in Fresno where people could come and stand up for love, unity and peace against white supremacy,” Cranston-Rhodes said.

Fresno State student Harrison Schmitt, a psychology major, and his two friends came to the event with signs in hand. He said he knew he had to stand up for those individuals who are not having their voices heard.

“I think that the three of us have an immense amount of privilege being white individuals, and I think it’s really important that we show our support and we don’t stay silent,” Schmitt said.

Fellow student Micah Olivas, a biochemistry major, said he came to the rally with the intentions of highlighting the racial tension and promoting diversity.

“To enjoy freedom, we must be all-inclusive,” Olivas said. “Having this kind of conversation to become more of our national dialogue is really when change starts to take off.”

The event included speeches by different cultural leaders from the community and various musical performances.

“There are more people who stand up for civil rights and liberties for everybody in the United States than there are people who are white supremacist,” Cranston-Rhodes said.