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CSULB community ‘takes back the night’

Hundreds of students, organizers and community members gathered at Cal State Long Beach on Thursday for the biannual “Take Back the Night” rally, where Colle Carpenter, a transgender graduate student who was reportedly attacked April 15 on campus, spoke about his experience.

“I’ve been terrified to come back to campus,” Carpenter said. “Know that what happened to me, didn’t just happen to me. It happened to the entire community.”

The event, which aims to spread awareness of sexual assault and gender violence, was hosted by the Women’s Resource Center, the CSULB Clothesline Project Club and the Feminist Organization Reclaiming Consciousness and Equality (F.O.R.C.E.).

Carpenter talked about words and the effect they can have on someone.

“ ‘It’ is such a derogatory term,” he said. “It takes away a person’s humanity. It takes away their personhood. It makes them less than human.”

Yvonne Moore, a member of Cal State Dominguez Hills Gay Straight Alliance and National Organization for Women South Bay, spoke about a recent hate crime at CSUDH.

“We want to come together,” Moore said. “The more of us that come together in unity, people will realize we aren’t going to put up with this bullshit.”

Vanessa Cardona, site manager for Young Women’s Christian Association of Greater Los Angeles Sexual Assault Crisis Services Program in the Harbor Area and South Bay, believes public protest is vital to raising awareness.

“I think it’s incredibly crucial and key to build solidarity and raise awareness,” Cardona said.

Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn attended the event and said those present at the rally were standing up against ignorant violence.

“We are standing up against any kind of violence, or discrimination against people of any gender race or creed,” Hahn said. “That kind of violence is about ignorance and fear. What people don’t understand they are afraid of.”

According to F.O.R.C.E. member Nicoal Sheen, a senior political science major and co-founder for Cease Animal Torture, it’s important to speak out, be educated and not be silenced “because we accept a culture of fear and a culture of violence.”

An important part of the event is to show solidarity, according to Ashleigh Klein, program specialist for YWCA and a CSULB alumna.

“I really hope that — I know that — the focus has kind of shifted in light of the recent attack on the transgender student,” Klein said. “But I really hope that we’re able to show the community that we are unified as a campus.”

Mikaela Sanchez, a Take Back the Night organizer and member of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Association and Long Beach Equality, spoke of how society can influence hate crimes.

“We live in a society where hate speech is okay; it’s funny,” Sanchez said. “By laughing you’re dehumanizing people — taking away their dignity. You’re telling people these crimes are OK.”

Putting an end to sexual assault and gender violence was the focus of the night, according to Sheen.

“We want this to stop. We don’t want to live with this fear and violence,” she said. “Until we have justice we’re going to speak out — we are not going to tolerate violence or the violation of our bodies because we are worth something.”

A march followed the rally at Maxson Plaza and was led by those chanting, “We have the power. We have the right. The streets are ours. Take back the night.”

 

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