Zhaleh Almaee Weinblatt of the Mandala Center for Change in Port Townsend leads roughly two dozen community members in a song during the Rally Against Hate on Saturday morning. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Zhaleh Almaee Weinblatt of the Mandala Center for Change in Port Townsend leads roughly two dozen community members in a song during the Rally Against Hate on Saturday morning. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend group talks about rallying community after election

PORT TOWNSEND — About 20 people ranging from small children attending with their parents to retirees gathered in downtown Port Townsend to protest hate and come up with ways to help the community came together in the weeks after the Nov. 8 presidential election.

They gathered in the rain at Haller Fountain on Saturday morning to sing songs, show their support and come up with ideas for the community.

“The hate is coming and we have to put ourselves in front of it and love it,” said Zhaleh Almaee Weinblatt from the Mandala Center for Change in Port Townsend.

“If we know how to do anything in this town, it’s mobilize.”

Many gatherings across U.S.

The rally was one of many gatherings that have been held across the United States in the weeks following the presidential election.

According to the event’s Facebook page, it was a time for community members to express their opposition to the policies set forward by President-elect Donald Trump and his Cabinet during and after the election.

Weinblatt, who said she is an Iranian-American Jewish person, said that while she benefits from having light skin, there are many people in the community who don’t have that luxury and are very afraid of what a Trump presidency could mean for them.

She said that is true even in predominantly liberal areas such as Port Townsend and Jefferson County — which was named one of the state’s “bluest” counties by The Seattle Times after the 2012 election and which voted for Hillary Clinton over Trump 62.5 percent to 29.8 percent.

Two teachers spoke out about some of the issues they’ve seen in Port Townsend schools since election day.

Dee Hammons, a teacher at Jefferson Community School in Port Townsend, said she’s heard from students of color that they’ve been heckled with racial slurs while walking in town, younger students have come to her expressing fear that adopted family members could be sent away and she’s heard outrage from many female students who feel their rights would be threatened by a Trump presidency.

“The prevalent voice I hear from the kids is ‘Keep us safe,’ ” Hammons said. “We’re all scrambling to figure out how to do that.”

Some of those gathered put out ideas for how to make the Port Townsend community feel like a safe place for women, people of color and the LGBT community. Some pushed for making Port Townsend a sanctuary city, which means undocumented immigrants in the city would not be prosecuted for violating federal immigration laws.

Other ideas were setting up a community help line over social media for anyone who feels unsafe walking home at night or running errands to get help and support from the community and organizing self-defense classes for women.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

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