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West Hartford Community Holds Peaceful Vigil in Reaction to Events in Charlottesville

Approximately 200 people gathered Sunday in West Hartford Center for a vigil. Photo courtesy of Kate Rothwell

A sizable crowd gathered in West Hartford Center at noon on Sunday for a vigil organized the previous day in solidarity with the counter-protestors in Charlottesville, VA.

By Ronni Newton

A passionate yet peaceful crowd gathered in West Hartford Center at noon Sunday to stand up against hate and intolerance in the wake of Saturday’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA – an event marked by violent clashes and the death of a counter-protestor who was run over by a driver who was participating in the rally.

Also associated with the event, two Virginia State Patrol troopers who were monitoring the rally died in a helicopter crash. According to CNN, dozens of people were also injured.

“We’re united,” State Sen. Beth Bye told the crowd of about 200 people at the Connecticut Veteran’s Memorial in West Hartford Center at Sunday afternoon’s vigil. “We should be proud … proud to be standing up against this,” Bye said.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, and Board of Education Vice Chair Cheryl Greenberg were also among the other speakers to address the crowd of more than 100 who gathered.

The vigil, which was organized late Saturday, was co-sponsored by Indivisible CT and Women’s March CT as a “show of solidarity with our friends who are protesting the violent, racist, White Nationalism terror happening in Virginia” according to the Facebook event.

West Hartford resident Sarah Raskin, who along with Jim Chapdelaine were key organizers of the West Hartford event, said all she did was “pick a spot and call on some wonderful people to speak. People were all wanting a place to come together,” she said, expressing her thanks that so many people showed up on such short notice. 

“It was inspiring to see so many people turn out on short notice to stand against racism and hatred,” West Hartford resident Susan Schoenberger said. “And many of the speakers reminded us why it’s important to gather like this: Silence is complicity.”

“It was amazingly well-organized for something arranged in less than a day,” said West Hartford resident Kate Rothwell.

In a post on the Indivisible CT Facebook page Sunday evening, Chapdelaine said that the vigil, with the help of Raskin, went from a little idea to a “beautiful, uplifting gathering with inspiring speakers” in just 12 hours, attracting speakers that included the governor and a U.S. senator.

“Most importantly, we show up. We’re learning how to do that,” Chapdelaine wrote.

“We have a lot to do but we know we can do it. We can play a part in standing up to racists, terrorists and anti American bigots. We thank everyone of you for showing up. Today and as long as we need to. Thanks everyone. We are patriots,” wrote Chapdelaine.

Women’s March CT held events all day Sunday throughout the state.

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From left. State Rep. Derek Slap, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, and State Sen. Beth Bye. West Hartford vigil. Aug. 13, 2017. Photo credit: Susan King

West Hartford vigil. Aug. 13, 2017. Photo credit: Susan King

West Hartford vigil. Aug. 13, 2017. Photo credit: Susan King

West Hartford vigil. Aug. 13, 2017. Photo credit: Susan King

West Hartford vigil. Aug. 13, 2017. Photo credit: Judy Wyman Kelly

State Sen. Beth Bye. West Hartford vigil. Aug. 13, 2017. Photo credit: Judy Wyman Kelly

West Hartford vigil. Aug. 13, 2017. Photo credit: Judy Wyman Kelly

Sen. Richard Blumenthal. West Hartford vigil. Aug. 13, 2017. Photo credit: Judy Wyman Kelly

West Hartford vigil. Aug. 13, 2017. Photo credit: Judy Wyman Kelly

Senator Richard Blumenthal and West Hartford resident Dawna Capps Evans. West Hartford vigil. Aug. 13, 2017. Photo courtesy of Dawna Capps Evans

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