About 60 people lit candles at the JTI Fountain at Main Street Plaza for a vigil Sunday night to show solidarity with Charlottesville in the wake of Saturday’s white nationalist rally and counter-protests that turned into chaotic attacks and claimed the life of one woman and injured others.
“We wanted to get folks together and talk about, and remember, what happened yesterday; I think it’s the right thing to do,” Eric Stamps, the leader of Indivisible Southside, said Sunday before the vigil. “The white nationalists don’t want peaceful rallies and protests; they want to incite violence.”
People who attended the vigil, organized by Indivisible Southside, lit candles and talked about how they felt about the deadly rally in Charlottesville. A state helicopter crash also claimed the lives of two state police officers. The helicopter was one of two circulating over Charlottesville after Saturday’s violent rally.
Glenda Clark-Motley said she heard about the vigil from Chris Daniel, chairman of Danville’s Democratic Party.
“It breaks my heart,” Clark-Motley said. “This is 2017; [the white nationalists] would take us back to how it used to be … they are a small minority creating havoc. America has come a long way and is inclusive of everyone.”
Clark-Motley said people need to stop teaching hate to their children.
“Hate is taught. They need to stop teaching the next generation to hate,” Clark-Motley said. “It starts at home.”
Gloria Bradley held a sign that quoted John 11:35: Jesus Wept.
“I heard someone say, ‘Our soldiers that fought in World War II did not fight Hitler to have him come here,’” Bradley said.
Four Danville City Councilman — Gary Miller, Larry Campbell, Lee Vogler and James Buckner — were at the vigil.
“It’s sad it’s come to this in our country,” Miller said. “I wish people would talk and not fight … this is reminiscent of Nazi Germany.”
Stamps said efforts to ignore white supremacists have not worked.
“We’ve been ignoring them for too long; they’ve grown and gotten stronger,” Stamps said.
Dale Jordan agreed.
“They’re bringing hate back to the whole nation,” she said. “We cannot be silent, or we take the side of the oppressor.”
Ebony Guy said she has felt an escalation in hate since the Confederate flag controversy in 2015, and asked council members if there was a way to get all of the Confederate flags down, or at least reduced in number and size.
Campbell said the issue does get talked about a lot.
“I’ve had realtors come to me and say [the Confederate flags] are affecting home sales,” Campbell said. “But the flags are on private property.”
Campbell said he would check on curtailing the size of the flags and height of the flagpoles.
Stamps told the crowd work needed to be done to stop the hate.
“We don’t want to go back,” Stamps said. “We want to go forward.”
Indivisible Southside was formed mainly to encourage people to vote, Stamps said. That national group was formed to “resist Trump’s agenda and hold their members of Congress accountable,” according to the website, www.indivisibleguide.com.
Denice Thibodeau / Danville Register & Bee