Six days after Sacramento mayor-elect Darrell Steinberg called on citizens to replace campaign lawn signs with signs reading “Pride Over Prejudice,” more than 50 people gathered Saturday for a public sign-painting project in solidarity with the LGBT community in Orlando.
Following the slayings of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sacramento’s LGBT Community Center held a rally outside of Faces nightclub on June 12, at which Steinberg addressed a crowd of more than 1,000 people.
On Saturday, Steinberg’s team and politicians including Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, Sacramento City Council Member Steve Hansen and Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, brought hundreds of old campaign signs to the parking lot behind the LGBT center in midtown.
They painted over their own names in white and replaced campaign slogans with “Pride Over Prejudice,” “#GetLoud” and “#WeStandWithOrlando.” They were joined by area residents who knelt on a blue tarp and used rainbow spray paint to decorate their signs before setting them up in the parking lot to dry.
Carlos Marquez, board president of the Sacramento LGBT Community Center, said Saturday’s event sought to channel people’s frustrations in a positive way.
“There’s a lot of things happening in the community, lots of reactions to what happened last weekend, and we just want to make sure that we can harness that energy and that frustration and send a really positive message for posterity,” Marquez said.
Now that the primary campaigns are over, Hansen said the project was a great way to repurpose the signs into a powerful statement. Hansen is the first openly gay member of City Council.
Though the event may have looked cheerful from the outside, with people scurrying around in bright pink tank tops, children and adults testing out paint colors and politicians posing for photos with their newly made signs, the art project was not a celebratory event.
Elk Grove Unified school board member Bobbie Singh-Allen reminded people of the somberness of last week, telling the audience that she is “sick and tired” of going to vigils.
“We’re not here celebrating,” Singh-Allen said. “We’re coming together to mourn and to grieve for our lost brothers and sisters in Orlando. But how many more times do we have to put on the TV and see mass shootings? When is enough enough?”
In his remarks to the crowd, McCarty also lamented that mass shootings are far too common. He added that it’s difficult to explain it to someone, especially for 7-year-olds, as he motioned to his two daughters sitting on the ground beside him as he spoke.
Most victims of the Pulse nightclub attack were younger than 40, with many of them in their 20s, Hansen said.
“We lost, in Orlando, a generation of leaders,” he said.
Anne Eisenberg, a member of the Congregation B’nai Israel, said when the Sacramento community came together in 1999 after the synagogue was hit by arsonists, it meant so much to the congregation to receive support from all sides of the community. Eisenberg said the most important thing a community can do in times of adversity is to unite and show one another kindness and compassion, making events like the sign-painting project so significant.
“This gives us a chance to do something positive in the memory of the victims of Orlando, but also make sure we prevent that next tragedy,” Bera said.