A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

Hundreds gather in Sonoma to hear Ukraine Consul General speak

Aryk Copley
Ukraine Consul General Dmytro Kushneruk delivers a vigorous speech to a supportive crowd in front of City Hall in Sonoma, Calif. March 17, 2022.

Hundreds of blue-and-yellow-clad supporters swarmed Sonoma City Hall March 17 to witness Consul General of Ukraine Dmytro Kushneruk speak about the plight of the Ukrainian people and receive a key to the city and a proclamation of support from Sonoma Mayor Jack Ding. 

“We strongly condemn the unprovoked action taken by the leadership of the Russian Federation against the citizens of Ukraine,” Ding said in his rousing speech. “The city of Sonoma affirms our support for the people of Ukraine, its sovereignty and independence.” 

Mayor of Sonoma Jack Ding presents Ukraine Consul General Dmytro Kushneruk with the key to the city in front of City Hall in Sonoma, Calif. March 17, 2022. (Aryk Copley)

After Ding spoke, Kushneruk stood at the podium to address the impressive crowd, some waving the Ukrainian flag, others holding up signs reading “The moral arc of history bends to Ukraine” and “F*ck Putin.” The Boys and Girls Club of Sonoma made blue and yellow hearts for attendees to wave. 

Kushneruk thanked Ding for his proclamation, and he thanked the citizens of Sonoma for donating more than $13,000 to Kaniv, Sonoma’s Ukrainian sister city. “It’s very important to know for the people [of Ukraine] that they are not alone in this fight against Russia, that people all over the world support them, not just the armed forces [of Ukraine] but support for all the regular citizens who suffer from Russian war,” he said.  

He also invoked historic attacks on American soil to explain his countrymen’s situation in a way Americans could understand.“You can remember Pearl Harbor, the morning of December 7, 1941, when your sky was black from the planes attacking you. Remember September 11, a terrible day in 2001, when people tried — bad people tried — to turn your cities into battlefields, when innocent people were attacked. No one expected that, and you couldn’t do anything about it,” he said.

Kushneruk also had a message for people who complain about the increase in gas prices. “Children’s lives are worth more than a 50 cent or $1 rise in gas prices,” he said as the large crowd cheered. 

“Right now, the destiny of our country is being decided, the destiny of our people, whether Ukrainians will be free, whether they will be able to preserve our democracy,” Kushneruk said. “Glory to Ukraine, and thank you very much Sonoma.”

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About the Contributors
Aryk Copley
Aryk Copley, Photographer
Aryk Copley (he/they) is an aspiring photojournalist in his second year with The Oak Leaf. After experiencing a brain injury and a subsequent 5-year recovery, Aryk has returned to school with a matured perspective of the world. As a means to cope with the aftereffects of his injury, he developed a passion for photography. Aryk works as a freelance wedding and portrait photographer in the Sonoma County area and maintains a propensity for full-contact weapons fighting, analog film photography, traveling, cinema and thrifting.
Nick Vides
Nick Vides, Photo-Editor
Nicholas “Nick” Vides (he/him) Is a seasoned breaking news reporter dedicated to making sure every shutter click of his camera captures a moment worth sharing. Nick's itch for chasing fires has kept him busy over the past seven years, covering every major fire event in Northern California from the Paradise Fire to the Caldor Fire. Nick currently splits his time as a photojournalist with The Oak Leaf and as a Contract Photographer with The Press Democrat. He has more than nine years of experience with photography, has been director of photography for multiple short films with the SRJC Media Arts Center, directed numerous student-led broadcasts with his Media 19 class, and interned for The Sarah and Vinnie Show on Alice 97.3. In the little free time left, he works for Highway 12 Winery in Sonoma, California as a Cellar Hand.  
Sean Young
Sean Young, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Sean Young (he/him) is in his ninth semester at SRJC and third semester at The Oak Leaf. He plans on finishing an associate degree in communications and journalism this spring. Sean lives in Sebastopol and spends his free time listening to his vinyl record collection, practicing bass guitar and writing for The Oak Leaf. He hopes to continue to a 4-year college after graduating from SRJC to work towards a bachelor's degree in communications and journalism.

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