Good Evening and thank you all for being here tonight. My name is Erica Reyes and I am here on behalf of Congressman Carbajal who unfortunately was unable to be here with us tonight. He asked me to come and share a few words on his behalf:

Seeing the events unfold in Charlottesville this weekend shook me to my core, as I am sure it did for many of us gathered here tonight. Watching the unabashed displays of hatred and violence on full display, learning of the dozens of individuals injured and of the tragic, senseless deaths of Lt. H. Jay Cullen, Trooper Berke M. M. Bates, and Heather Heyer still have me in shock.

It is appalling that we are living in 2017 and racism, bigotry, intolerance, hate and domestic terror are on the rise. The truth is a horrifying reality. We are all gathered here tonight because we know this is not the reality that we want. We know it is inexcusable to have the leader of our nation fail to place blame where blame is due. Extreme hate groups perpetuated these horrific acts: white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK, have absolutely no place in our country in 2017.

We are here because we know that our country is strengthened by immigrants, people of color, our LGBTQ community, our people of faith, and by all of those who know love always triumphs. Together, we know we are infallible and together we can Outshine the Darkness.

We stand tonight in the light of Martin Luther King Jr. knowing that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

We stand tonight in the light of Nelson Mandela knowing that “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

We stand tonight in the light of Susan Bro, Heather Heyer’s mother knowing that “we are going to have our differences… we are going to be angry with each other, but we must channel that anger into righteous action.”

Members of Congress and Senators from across this Country are standing together united against hate and bigotry because of this tragedy. I hope this unity will continue as we resume the work of this nation. Now more than ever, we need leadership that will not shy away from the truth or things that are uncomfortable. We must address these issues head on – un-faltered and resolute.

I challenge you all to go forth, more resolved than before in the community of San Luis Obispo and beyond. Laws alone do not change hearts and minds, it is individuals living their truth that makes a difference. Be the difference, have those conversations, and be that change. Thank you.

***Photos by Brittany Anzel App


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