Hundreds attend San Luis Obispo vigil for Charlottesville

Aug 15, 2017

In response to the August 11 and 12 events in Charlottesville, Virginia, San Luis Obispo locals held a vigil on Wednesday evening. Called Outshine the Darkness, around 1,000 people gathered to express solidarity with those across the nation protesting hate groups and white supremacists. Organizers invited Central Coast residents to "unite our community against hate, racism and bigotry."

Those organizers include Bend the Arc, SLO County Progressives and Together We Will Cambria. Heather Gray is president of Democrats of San Luis Obispo. She said this week’s vigil came together pretty quickly after the protests, rallies and violence in Charlottesville unfolded.

"We wanted to bring everyone together and show support,” Gray said. “And also, obviously, we wanted to honor Charlottesville, and let people know that we’re paying attention and we stand in solidarity with Charlottesville against racism and bigotry and white supremacy and all these things that we really need to be talking about and having dialog about.”

Gray said although the events took place on the other side of the country, many on Central Coast felt compelled to take action.

“Even though it’s not local, we’re still a part of it, we’re still Americans, we’re still part of the same country,” Gray said. “And we just want to take a stand, and say, hey, we see you, we honor you, we feel what’s happening, and let you know you’re not alone,”

At the vigil, organizers collected donations to send to Charlottesville charities. 

Rev. Stephen Vines is the president of the San Luis Obispo County chapter of the NAACP and one of the featured speakers. Vines said it has been interesting seeing such interest in issues of race and white supremacy because of the tragedy in Charlottesville.

"But you know, it's something that's always been there, given the foundation of American society was built on slavery and taking the land from the Indians,” Vines said. “You know, those two issues have never been resolved in our culture."

The August 16 vigil started at 6 p.m. in San Luis Obispo’s Mission Plaza. Organizers asked participants to bring homemade signs and LED candles. 

The vigil concluded with a five minute-long meditation led by Tibetan monks. 

Editor's note: after the vigil took place, we updated an earlier version of this story that previewed the event.