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Davis, California

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Holding the Light


Davis residents light candles, promote sanctuary and inclusivity

As darkness fell over the crowd of people who filled the streets of Davis on Nov. 12, a halo of light surfaced from Central Park. In light of election results both controversial and complex, Davis residents gathered together for a Holding the Light ceremony to reaffirm their commitment to keeping the City of Davis a progressive and sympathetic environment.

The event, organized by Cayce Wallace, took place in downtown Davis and served as a direct response to the election of Donald Trump, signaling solidarity as a diverse and climate conscious community.

“We have gathered as a community to bring light into the darkness that has come over our nation. Coming together in strength and solidarity so that we can get our legs back under us and move forward. We have been caught in what feels like a hurricane, but now we are in the eye, and we are finding our strength as we move forward together,” Wallace said.

Words of solidarity were followed by words of anger or anecdotes of the personal struggles people faced in the few days after the election results were announced. Candles were passed around to newcomers who stood empty handed, as community members stepped up to the microphone to share their messages of unity.

“I’m not sure if we know what’s coming, but we want to remain faithful as representatives of the community,” said Mayor of Davis Robb Davis.

Davis shared with the crowd an anecdote from his personal life involving his grandson Jaime. Jaime’s father, Davis’s son-in-law, is undocumented, according to Davis.

“Jaime came home the day after the election and said to my daughter, ‘Mommy, when does mister Trump take office?’ He’s in second grade. She said ‘Why do you want to know?’, and he said, ‘Because I want to know when Papa has to go back to Mexico ’— Jaime’s afraid,’” Davis said.

Davis went on to remind the audience that the community should remain tolerant, even in the face of intolerance. Davis, in his capacity as mayor, also addressed fears that the current American political climate could weaken the progressive advancements the City of Davis has made.

“We’re going to prepare ourselves. […] Given what we have heard, we must prepare ourselves to resist. Some may feel it is unseemly for an elected official to even suggest that there would be resistance against the state, but that’s what I’m saying,” Davis said.

His words were met with raucous cheers from the audience, however, Davis stressed that he did not use those words lightly. He explained that should the community be asked to compromise its values, Davis, among other elected officials, would defy such orders.

“We cannot succumb to those fears. But make no mistake — words have consequences. And words were spoken, not by accident, not by a slip of the tongue, but words were spoken during this campaign with meaning, with intent, and those words have consequences, and those consequences are that we have legitimate fear in our community today,” Davis said.  

Also in attendance was Lucas Frerichs, a councilmember for the City of Davis, who is familiar with the Davis community as a result of 20 years as a resident. Frerichs also chose to focus on the diverse aspects of the Davis community and shared his commitment to protecting the community.

Frerichs reminded residents of Davis’s designation as a sanctuary city, which means that the City of Davis refuses to conduct raids for the purpose of finding and detaining undocumented immigrants. Davis is one of several cities who have shared an unwillingness to assist U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in that respect.  

“Davis has been a sanctuary city since 1986. 30 years as a sanctuary city. That is something to celebrate. […] I can tell you, without a doubt, that this current city council is going to continue to uphold that standing as a sanctuary city for anyone who needs to be here and wants to be here,” Frerichs said.

With candles glowing brightly, Davis residents seemed to find solace in one another that early November night.

“We honor that we are mad, disheartened and uncertain of things to come, and yet we are peaceful in our actions,” Wallace said.


Written by: Samantha Solomon – city@theaggie.org


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