Turlock celebrated its diversity at the Stand Against Hate gathering at Pitman High School.
Speakers at the Wednesday evening event decried the recent terrorists attacks in Sri Lanka and New Zealand. And they offered support for local people who might not feel welcome in the city.
“We’re all here because of the events that we’ve seen happen across the globe,” said. Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock. “We’re here for our community.”
The city and California State University, Stanislaus, organized the panel discussion as part of a task force against hate. The campus in recent months has dealt with posters attacking women and LGBTQ people, but that was not a specific focus Wednesday.
The panel included Turlock High School students who are immigrants, plus local leaders from Sikh, Assyrian, African-American, Latino and other backgrounds.
Ahmad Kayello, Imam at the Islamic Center of Modesto, noted how the prophet Mohammed taught that all people are descended from Adam. This faith stands for “mercy, humbleness and human rights,” he said, not the enmity that motivates terrorists.
“They hate peace,” Kayello said. “... They hate us. They hate these gatherings. But we continue our efforts to help uplift and protect humanity from evil.”
African-Americans suffered from hundreds of years of slavery followed by a century of legal segregation, said Wendy Byrd, president of the Modesto/Stanislaus NAACP.
“In fact, our organization was started because of hate,” she said. “Back then, it was OK to lynch people and hang them from trees.”
Sam David, president of the Assyrian-American Civic Club, said he likes having people “from different backgrounds, different colors, different cultures, different beliefs” in Turlock.
“So it’s an honor and a pleasure for us ... to make sure that each and every one of us here in this community is protected, that we all work together, bond together, to solve any kind of hate that’s going on,” he said.
The Turlock High representatives were Alejandro Varela from Honduras, Jaswinder Kaur from India, Monica Orellana from El Salvador and Sadiqa Karimi from Pakistan.