They showed up to stand up against hate.
More than 100 people gathered outside the Massachusetts State House in Boston Monday to make their voices heard against hate, responding to scores of bias-motivated incidents reported recently across the Commonwealth and the country.
“We come together today as a community, irrespective of who we voted for,” Robert Trestan, the regional director for the New England Anti-Defamation League, told the crowd. “We are here to speak out against the more than 700 reported incidents across the country.”
Hundreds of hate incidents nationwide have occurred following the presidential election of Donald Trump, and among those are numerous swastikas scrawled and painted on walls and in the streets.
In Massachusetts, bias incidents have been reported in such cities asBoston, Cambridge, NatickandWellesley. State Attorney General Maura Healey, who last week launched a hotline to allow residents to report harassment and hate crimes, said at the rally that her office has already received more than 400 calls.
“Here’s what’s non-negotiable: Everyone in this country deserves dignity, everyone in this country deserves respect,” she said.
“Racism is a deal-breaker, sexism is a deal-breaker,Islamophobia is a deal-breaker,” Healey added, her voice drowned out by the cheering crowd.
In the crowd were people holding handmade signs, some reading, “We won’t wait to denounce hate” and “Immigrants make America great.”
Kate Koch-Sundquist of Essex brought her two boys, 5-year-old Sebastian and 3-year-old August.
“I believe that planting the roots of peace starts with this generation,” Koch-Sundquist said, gesturing to her kids.
Sebastian held a sign that said “Make America kind again,” and August held one that said, “No hate in my state.”
More than 50 groups were represented within the crowd, including the New England Anti-Defamation League, LGBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, Jewish Community Center of Greater Boston and the Boston Branch of the NAACP.
Officials like Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg repeatedly brought up the state’s history as a beacon for social justice.
Walsh detailed the diversity of Boston in particular, including its mixture of white and black, Asian and Hispanic residents. Twenty-seven percent of Bostonians were born in another country and that 51 percent of children live with a foreign-born parent, “including myself,” the mayor said.
“That’s just the tip of the iceberg of who we are as a city,” Walsh said. “On Saturday, we held a town hall on racism…When I was on the stage I looked out, I saw one-thousand Bostonians in that room of all races, ages, genders, sexualities. I saw Boston. I saw America. I saw hope there and I saw love there.”
He added, “we should not be neutral when hate rears its ugly head.”
Harmann Singh, a law school student in Cambridge, told the crowd about his personal experience being harassed, followed and yelled at inside a store after the election results by a man who believed he was Muslim.
Singh, who detailed his encounter in an op-ed for The Boston Globe, wanted to highlight the importance of citizens sticking up for each other.
“No one at the store said a single thing to me or the man,” he told the crowd. “At a moment when many of our brothers and sisters across the country do not feel safe in their own homes, we must stand up for those around us.”
Walsh added that the bias incidents would not go unanswered.
“We will move civil rights forward, not backward,” Walsh said. “We’ve said this more than once in Boston’s history: Love wins. Love wins equality, love wins civil rights and love certainly defeats hate.”