Vigil shows support for Charlottesville
CHESTERTOWN — People gathered in Chestertown’s Fountain Park for a vigil Wednesday, Aug. 16, showing support and solidarity for those affected by the recent events in Charlottesville, Va.
Kent and Queen Anne’s Indivisible organizer Erin Anderson said the gathering was a “stand against hate and inequality.”
At a “Unite The Right” rally to protest the removal of a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee Saturday, Aug. 12, white supremacists clashed with counter-demonstrators.
A speeding vehicle crashed into a group protesting racism during the
incident, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring about 19 other people.
A police helicopter also crashed while en route to the rally Saturday, taking the lives of Virginia state trooper Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates.
“A memorial for Heather Heyer was held today in Charlottesville, where her mother said ‘They tried to kill my child to shut her up, well guess what, you just magnified her,’” Anderson told the crowd in Fountain Park.
She said Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, also challenged everyone to “march forward toward equality and dignity for all.”
“We stand here united to say that hate has no home here, that this is not okay,” Indivisible member Kitty Maynard told the crowd. “There are not ‘many sides’ to this.”
She said those attending the vigil have “one voice” that will not tolerate white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Nazis or “any other hate group that seeks to terrorize, degrade or harm any member of our community.”
She also said the events in Charlottesville are a “daily reality” for many people and efforts to change that are always ongoing.
“But we stand here to say to those who brought their hatred to Charlottesville: you don’t get to win,” Maynard said. “Love wins. Mutual respect wins. Democracy wins. America wins. And we’re standing here to prove it.”
Seven volunteers then read different passages including a Facebook post by Heyer — “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention” — and a quote from Nelson Mandela.
Another read a quote from Heyer’s mother, “I don’t want her death to be a focus for more hatred. I want her death to be a rallying cry for justice and equality and fairness and compassion.”
One passage, read by the Rev. Ellsworth Tolliver, stated “Charlottesville exemplifies an undeniable reality that lurks just beneath the surface in this nation we love” and that the white supremacists gathered to protest “so-called attacks on their self-perceived racial superiority.”
“That’s it — that’s their grievance. Imagine how they’d feel if they were told they could not come into America because of their religion . ... Or they could be separated without warning from their family or the country they call home,” Tolliver read. “There are things happening right now in our countr y too. And if we care about what happened ... in Charlottesville, we’ve got to care about everyday discrimination as well.”
As candles were passed around and lit, members of the Chester River Chorale led the crowd in singing “America the Beautiful,” “We Shall Overcome” and “Let There Be Peace On Earth.” Some people linked arms or held hands as they sang, while others raised their lit candles into the air.
“We don’t have to let extremists define us. Opportunities to do right are right in front of us,” Tolliver read. “We just have to seize them.”
The vigil ended with a moment of silence. Afterward, groups of people chose to remain in Fountain Park to talk or just embrace one another.
Amy Warner of Church Hill, second from left, Kent County Commission on Aging Chairman Muriel Cole, Gerry Edwards, Susan Flanigan of Chestertown, center with arms raised, and others participate in a vigil for Charlottesville, Va., Wednesday, Aug. 16....
Kent and Queen Anne’s Indivisible organizer Erin Anderson speaks about the need to stand against hate and inequality during a vigil for Charlottesville, Va., Wednesday, Aug. 16.
Participants in the Charlottesville, Va., vigil in Fountain Park sing to “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”
The Rev. Ellsworth Tolliver reads a passage during a vigil for Charlottesville, Va., Wednesday, Aug. 16.
Kent and Queen Anne’s Indivisible member Kitty Maynard helps to light candles for Owen Bailey and his mother, former Chestertown mayor Margo Bailey during a vigil Wednesday, Aug. 16.
Participants hold candles and sing “We Shall Overcome” Wednesday, Aug. 16, at a vigil for Charlottesville, Va.
From left, Ben Bronstein of Washington, D.C., Jane Elvin and Shelley Minch of Chestertown hold candles and join in singing during a Wednesday, Aug. 16, vigil.
John Leek of Chestertown holds a sign during a vigil Wednesday, Aug. 16 in Fountain Park.