Earlier today (January 29), concerned residents of New Westminster and other Lower Mainland communities gathered at Hyack Square for an anti-fascist rally, in response to neo-Nazi flyers that were discovered at a bus stop in the city last week.
Approximately 100 people showed up at the square to march down Columbia Street towards the Columbia SkyTrain station.
Before the march began, the Straight spoke with rally organizer Imtiaz Popat.
Popat is also a founding member of the newly formed Coalition Against Bigotry - Pacific. The coalition rallied in Abbotsford last weekend.
"It [New Westminster] is a safe community, but they are here. There's a store just down the street, a surplus store that sells neo-Nazi flags, so we're really concerned," said Popat.
The organizer said he and many other Lower Mainland residents are concerned, "now that neo-Nazi propaganda has crossed the river from cities like Abbotsford, Chilliwack, and Mission, to New Westminster and Richmond."
He added that another reason for the rally was to let authorities know that communities need to be protected from hate speech and other potentially violent acts.
"Yes, there is anti-hate legislation, but yet they are still doing this. We want to feel safe," he said.
Popat said the coalition's mission going forward is to grow the group and to spread the message that neo-Nazism of any kind is not welcome in cities in the Lower Mainland and beyond.
"We want to build a coalition against this kind of hate that is against, women, against people of colour, against gays and lesbians, because this is what they are about," Popat said.
"It is a broad message that we do not accept bigotry in our back yard."