Santa Barbara Rallies Against Hate

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Santa Barbara Rallies Against Hate
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By Lauren Bray, edhat staff

Community leaders and activists joined together on Thursday to rally against hate after an altercation resulted in hateful homophobic language. 

The Pacific Pride Foundation hosted "A Community Response Against Hate" after a brief rainstorm in Santa Barbara's De La Guerra Plaza around 5:00 p.m. Approximately 100 people showed up in support of the LGBTQ community and Ethan Bertrand, an openly gay man and Isla Vista community leader who was verbally assaulted with homophobic slurs by Isla Vista landlord James Gelb on State Street earlier this month.

A video was captured of the altercation and Gelb was cited with disturbing the peace this week by Santa Barbara's District Attorney Joyce Dudley. 

In response, the Pacific Pride Foundation put together this event to denounce hateful language, homophobic slurs, and violent words or actions. "Today, LGBTQ+ people in our community still face harassment, discrimination, and the threat of violence. Together, we stand for equality and safety," the foundation wrote in a Facebook post

Bertrand took the stage to thank everyone for supporting him and the LGBTQ community while emphasizing he's proud to be gay, a statement he made towards Gelb in the video. He expressed that hate has no home in Santa Barbara and even though hateful incidents take place, not only against the LGBTQ community but against women, immigrants, and homeless people, he's grateful that everyone is coming together to say "not again."

Ethan Bertrand giving a speech to community members

Openly gay Goleta City Councilmember Kyle Richards spoke of many mixed emotions around this event. He said he's angry and defiant, but at the same time, he's proud of the courage exhibited by local LGBTQ members on a daily basis. "We will not be silenced... we refuse to be quiet about this and allow this type of behavior to be ok. It's not ok," said Richards.

Santa Barbara's newly elected and soon to be mayor, Cathy Murrillo, expressed we should all respect one another. While speaking on stage she paraphrased Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous quote: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." She finished with a statement directed towards Gelb, "I hope there is hope for him to change."

Jordan Killebrew of Black Lives Matter gave a heartfelt speech directed at Bertrand. "There is no place for this type of behavior. Period. Ever," said Killebrew. He expressed this being important and we won't stand for hate, "especially for a person like Ethan who puts his heart and soul into the community."

County Supervisor Das Williams, Santa Barbara City Councilmember Gregg Hart, a representative of Assemblymember Monique Limón, Pacific Pride Foundation's LGBTQ+ Program Manager Patrick Lyra Lanier, and local women's march organizer Michal Lynch spoke as well. 

Bertrand closed with another Martin Luther King, Jr. quote, "Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals."

The Pacific Pride Foundation, Santa Barbara County's LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS advocacy and support center, is hosting a public grand opening of their new offices on Saturday from 12:00 - 4:00 p.m. The new space is located at 608 Anacapa Street, the former space of Arch Rock Restaurant, next to Antioch University. 

Also on Monday, November 20th, the Foundation is also hosting a Transgender Day of Remembrance with the Santa Barbara Transgender Advocacy Network at the Santa Barbara Courthouse from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.



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a-1591210959 Nov 18, 2017 04:27 PM
Santa Barbara Rallies Against Hate

Who knows if the offensive one is even on the spectrum? Doesn't matter, doesn't agree with my experience of AD. He has an anger management problem. However ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: He also has enough $$ to fight this if he wanted to. Offensive speech is protected, though not necessarily yelling it at a person a few feet away from you. Could be interesting. :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

a-1591210959 Nov 18, 2017 10:58 AM
Santa Barbara Rallies Against Hate

I think Mr. Bertrand must be starting to think that he should never have provoked Mr. Gelb in the first place. Bottom line is that one person said something "not nice" to another, and the other responded in kind - nothing more, nothing less.

a-1591210959 Nov 18, 2017 09:55 AM
Santa Barbara Rallies Against Hate

Bertrand made an unfriendly, self-righteous, negative comment to Gelb. If not for that, none of this would have occurred. Bertrand gets his 15 minutes of fame, people are outraged, Gelb is outted as being a homophobe. All very sad.

Flicka Nov 18, 2017 08:13 AM
Santa Barbara Rallies Against Hate

Okay, according to some here a person has no right to make a comment to an arrogant, wealthy, nut case with major out of control anger issues he can't control. Claiming autism for his outbursts of racist hatred would mean every person with autism could blow up on a moments notice, which is totally not true.

a-1591210959 Nov 17, 2017 03:30 PM
Santa Barbara Rallies Against Hate

This is good news NOT its ok to set up a mentally handicapped person , and then rejoice in there being, or is it because Gelb has money . The whole thing is ugly , Now you can hate my comment. Glad I could help.

a-1591210959 Nov 17, 2017 05:33 PM
Santa Barbara Rallies Against Hate

If Gelb wants to hide behind his autism as a mental handicap, perhaps he should agree to have a conservator appointed to handle his financial affairs first.

Roger Nov 17, 2017 05:11 PM
Santa Barbara Rallies Against Hate

I wish I was rich and nuts instead of being poor and nuts I could pay for quality help then instead of getting poor help there is NO EXCUSE FOR WHAT GELP DID But I guess he can pay for whatever he wants with $$$

a-1591210959 Nov 17, 2017 05:01 PM
Santa Barbara Rallies Against Hate

Are you saying Gelb is mentally handicapped so everyone should walk on eggshells around him lest one should set him off? Or is he an adult who needs to control his emotions or at the very least be held accountable for them going off. By the same token do you blame the woman for being assaulted because her clothing or mannerisms "triggered" an unstable individual?

GeneralTree Nov 17, 2017 02:56 PM
Santa Barbara Rallies Against Hate

People saying that the whole issue was caused by Bertrand are content to be on the wrong side of history.

a-1591210959 Nov 17, 2017 02:59 PM
Santa Barbara Rallies Against Hate

Banging my head against the wall here...... Pointing out that Bertrand poked the bear does NOT mean that we think what Gelb said was OK! Why can't you get that? Simply pointing out a fact, does not mean I agree with what Gelb said.

a-1591210959 Nov 17, 2017 02:39 PM
Santa Barbara Rallies Against Hate

All but one are missing the point. Being baited or poked is no excuse for this type of behavior, which I hope we can all agree on. But to go further than aggression and use someone's sexuality, gender, race, income level, etc. is what's really scary. LGBTQ people have been targeted for centuries because of their sexuality. They've been bullied and threatened, and while it's historically better today than it was, these incidents still happen and they still need to be fought against to prevent a backslide into how it was.

a-1591210959 Nov 17, 2017 02:06 PM
Santa Barbara Rallies Against Hate

Totally agree. Incident would not have happened had one person not "lit the match" to set off a known hothead. Never would have happened. I hope Bertrand has learned a lesson.

a-1591210959 Nov 17, 2017 01:58 PM
Santa Barbara Rallies Against Hate

I don't think anyone has said what Gelb said was "OK." I think some people have said that Bertrand did poke a known hornet's nest, but there is nothing wrong or hateful about pointing that out.

a-1591210959 Nov 17, 2017 01:56 PM
Santa Barbara Rallies Against Hate

Not by Gelb and the people who say it was ok to do that because he was "triggered" or "baited."

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