More than a week after a banner displaying the words “embrace white pride” was spotted on an overpass in Templeton, people are “rallying against hate.”
Community members packed the Vineyard Drive overpass on Wednesday afternoon carrying posters and flags that promote acceptance.
“We felt like if we did nothing towards that and we didn’t react to it, then they would just know that we were the county that had an 'embrace white pride' banner,” said event organizer Eric Alcosiba.
Alcosiba says those displaying the “embrace white pride" banner are not the only ones with the right to express their opinion.
“They have their right to express their opinions, but we also have our right to express our values and express ourselves. We have the right to rally, the right to show our version of north county," Alcosiba said.
San Luis Obispo-based attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu says those holding the banner are well within their First Amendment rights.
“In my opinion, it may be hate speech. I don’t dispute that, but you are allowed to express hate speech under the First Amendment," he said.
A California Highway Patrol spokesperson also said that unless the banner is affixed to the overpass, the law is not being violated.
Attendees feel strongly about making their voices heard.
“I just think we need to make a statement that what’s been going on out here is not okay," said Paso Robles resident Bill Miller.
“That is a sign that has been used by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist organizations throughout our history for the last hundred years and there’s no place for that here in our town or in our community at all,” said Paso Robles resident Brett Knupfer.