El Sobrante anti-hate group to hold event remembering Will Sims

One year after the high-profile murder of Richmond jazz musician Will Sims at a bar in El Sobrante, a local anti-hate group that formed in the wake of the killing is set to hold an evening of remembrance on Sunday, Nov. 19.

The event hosted by Not In Our Town, El Sobrante will start at 6 p.m. in the meeting room at the El Sobrante Library on 4191 Appian Way and will feature live music by local musicians and a community dialogue. Also, a rose will be dedicated to Sims in the library rose garden.

Sims, described as a friendly singer, guitarist and piano player who performed throughout Northern California, was brutally beaten by three white men at a bar called the Capri Club, located across the street from the library, the night of Nov. 12. He was then shot in the head outside the bar. According to the East Bay Times, Sims was “so badly injured in the beating that the police officer who first found his body assumed he had been struck by a car.”

While the N word was hurled during the attack, a grand jury declined prosecutors’ request to charge the murder as a hate crime.

Will Sims

Still, the group Not In Our Town, El Sobrante says racism remains alive and well in the community and wants what happened to Sims to help battle it. 

The event will “honor the memory of Wills Sims and our community’s efforts to continue to work for unity and stand up to any form of hate,” said organizer Becki Cohn-Vargas. “There have been swastikas painted in our town this year- not unlike many other places. I believe they have been painted over, but this has been a terrible year with an uptick in hate.”

Not in Our Town El Sobrante is made up of El Sobrante residents taking part in the national Not in Our Town movement. The group created signs for residents and businesses to display that say, “Not In Our Town. No Hate in El Sobrante. Respect for All.” Those who would like a sign for your home or business can message this Facebook page.