Veterans Day and Hefas events held concurrently in main quad
November 21, 2016
Some faculty and staff were concerned about conflict over the National Anthem being played when both the Veteran’s Day event and the Hefas community event “Keep our Dreams Alive” occupied the main quad Nov 11.
“Some of the staff people were talking about how awkward it might be,” said Cynthia Kaufman, Director of the Vasconcellos Institute for Democracy in Action, who was one of the main speakers.
Kaufman said she spoke about the need for unity and the spirit of solidarity, as well about how it would be difficult in the future to get the government to respond, including a bit about the importance of direct action, as has been taken by some protesters at the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The Veterans Day event was held across the quad, led by Sgt. Steve Perez, current Veterans Club president. The De Anza College Student Symphony performed, and Cynthia said one of the staff told her, “They’re going to play the National Anthem, I’m not sure how that’s gonna go.”
Kaufman says some of the attendees and staff decided on the spot to hold a silent sign of protest by taking a knee and raising their fists during the anthem.
Itzel Sanchez, who organized the event, said the mic was open for all to speak, and a wide spread of students from the Black, Muslim and LGBT communities spoke during the hour long session.Sanchez said the mood was one of mutual respect, where they communicated, “You do your own thing and we’ll do our own thing”. DASB Senate Vice President Stephanie Rigsby attended the event to show solidarity with undocumented students.
“I wouldn’t call it a protest, they were trying to show solidarity with undocumented students,” Rigsby said. “It just happened to be at the same time in the same place. Actually, nobody knew about it until the police came and talked to them and said, you’re not doing a protest are you? They told the police they had no idea the veterans were going to be there.”
According to Rigsby, the police were worried that the Hefas rally would interfere with the Veterans Day event.
“I know one of the issues brought up to them was PTSD,” Rigsby said. “I had to have a conversation with the police and let them know that actually, our communities identify with that, because a lot of us have PTSD and we don’t get any treatment for it either. So there would be no way that any of us would go up to veterans and have some harsh sentiment toward them. It’s not about them and it’s not about us, we just had two movements happening in the same area.”
College President Brian Murphy said he wished to attend the event but was off-campus at the time, so he sent Christina Espinosa-Pieb in his stead.