Bay Area Promotes Healing, Unity After Tumultuous Election - NBC Bay Area

Bay Area Promotes Healing, Unity After Tumultuous Election

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    NEWSLETTERS

    'So Deeply Sad': Oakland Therapist Orchestrates 'Hands Around Lake Merritt' to Foster Love

    As the surprising presidential election results slowly start to sink in, folks in the Bay Area continue to express a variety of emotional reactions. Christie Smith reports. (Published Monday, Nov. 14, 2016)

    As the surprising presidential election results slowly start to sink in, folks in the Bay Area continue to express a variety of emotional reactions.

    Thousands of people joined hands around Lake Merritt in Oakland Sunday afternoon during a peaceful demonstration, marking a fifth-consecutive day of protests centered around decrying president-elect Donald Trump's history of contentious behavior and pressing for national unity.

    The demonstration, which started at 3 p.m., was designed to promote "healing and empowerment through standing together in solidarity," according to a Facebook event post.

    Robin O'Donnell said he knew he had to take part in the event.

    "I'm here because my heart brought me here," he said. "I see all these people who have the same hurt."

    Robin Monte Rio brought a board for people to sign about the changes they'd like to see.

    "Some people use violence to protest and express themselves," Monte Rio said. "I believe we can have other means, more peaceful means, to communicate."

    Somatic therapist Allison White spearheaded the event after feeling "so deeply sad" following Tuesday's stunning turn of events in the political world. She regularly ventures around the roughly 3-mile-long loop that wraps around the lake and eventually felt compelled to stand up and orchestrate some change. Before she knew it, more than 7,000 people signed on to attend her peaceful protest.

    "There is a lot of violence, a lot of racism, a lot of people not being accepting of others," White said. "We all need to be accepting of others."

    Organizers wrote on the social media website that they would welcome any and all attendees, regardless of political affiliation. One of the main objectives was to "pray for peace, reconciliation and love" in addition to combatting "racism, sexism, homophobia and Islamophobia," according to those behind the gathering.

    Before the official start of the demonstration, an "empathy tent" was set up to help aid in any needed healing and children flashed "Free Listening" signs for those desiring an open ear. A group of psychotherapists belonging to the group "Sidewalk Talk" were also on hand to listen to concerns in a neutral fashion.

    The spirit of the afternoon held up to its goal.

    Every time a bird flew up in the air, people clapped their hands and did the wave. One group brought a boombox and blasted "Love Train," a famous tune from The O'Jays. Others wore sticky notes with empathetic messages fastened with a safety pin, a new symbol of the movement. People simply want a safe place to live.

    Among other planned protests across the region, folks are expected to gather in San Francisco for a peaceful procession.

    Participants assembled at Pier 7 in the city by the bay at 11 a.m. before creating signs and marching through city streets, according to a Facebook event post.

    "Now is the time to come together and lift each other up, especially the communities who are suffering from the bruises and alienation caused by the backdrop of 'isms' that have dominated this election year," organizers wrote on Facebook.

    Thousands of protesters were already marching in and around Golden Gate Park Saturday morning and early afternoon chanting that Trump "has got to go," according to witnesses.

    A couple dozen protesters were also spotted standing along a corner in downtown San Francisco.

    For the past five days, protests scattered around the Bay Area have ranged from violence and tension to open dialogues and group hugs.

    NBC Bay Area's Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.

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