A former member of the early rock ‘n’ roll group the Platters performed while enlightening Santa Barbara residents on Saturday about hate crimes in the county and how they should respond.
Former Platters singer Ron Paris led the march from a church at the intersection of Anapamu Street and Garden Street to State Street, where he and Santa Barbara City Councilman Das Williams gave speeches. Approximately fifteen people, including Williams, joined Paris in singing, shouting pro-diversity slogans into a bullhorn and displaying signs provided by the Anti-Defamation League that read, “No Place for Hate.”
“We have to extend ourselves and make this planet a better place to live,” Paris said. “Either you’re a part of the problem or a part of the solution, there is no in-between.”
ADL Regional Director Julie Saltoun said the march is part of its national No Place for Hate program, which works with community-based groups to challenge prejudice and bigotry and promote diversity.
Saltoun said the march did not attract as many participants as she hoped it would, but she said the ADL was still pleased with the event. She said the march was designed to highlight how important it is for Santa Barbara residents to respect each other despite cultural or racial differences.
“Diversity is our strength, and people need to celebrate and respect diversity here in our community,” Saltoun said.
Paris said that holding such marches reminds the community that racism and intolerance still exist in Santa Barbara, and cited two separate hate incidents in 2002 as examples. In one attack, the office of a local black optometrist was burned down and the word “nigger” was written on the wall, he said. As for the other incident, Paris said, 37-year-old Santa Barbara resident Clint Risetter was killed after he was doused with gasoline and set on fire for allegedly being homosexual.
Williams, who thanked the marchers for participating in the event during his speech, said residents in the community must take proactive steps to prevent hate crimes like the 2002 attacks from occurring.
“It shouldn’t take another brutal attack to put people into action,” Williams said.