Yesterday while some 1500 New Yorkers gathered in what Josh Marshall called a "Republican hate festival" in Lower Manhattan to protest the proposed Islamic Cultural Center (and an almost equal number opposed them), several hundred Berkeley residents turned out calmly to hear chanting of chapters of the Qu'ran and proclaim their community's solidarity against all forms of religous and secular intolerance.
A long line of determined people wound their way through Ohlone Park to a partially shaded area by the playground.
The sheer number of eager participants was a happy shock to those who had called the gathering. They were prepared for 25, not ten times as many.
Organizer Robin Braverman spoke her truth:
A man chanted a sura.
People in the crowd spoke from their hearts about why they had come.
A Berkeley crowd is not solemn, even when protesting bigotry.
It's easy to dismiss or mock this sort of gathering, but this too is where we start.