Rally aims to show solidarity

Staff Report

Local groups have once again organized a rally to denounce hate groups and bigotry and to show solidarity for those who have experienced it.

“United Against Hate” is set for 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Morton Park.

According to a Facebook page for the rally, it is meant a peaceful display of support in the community against hatred in all forms.

“What we want is to say that this community stands up against hate or bigotry of any kind,” said Shirley Bell, one of the rally’s organizers. “We want people to know that no matter what race, religion, or sexuality, no matter what you’re welcome here. You have allies here.”

This rally comes as a result of events in Charlottesville, such as white supremacist protests and the horrible rhetoric that has stemmed from them, Bell said.

There was another rally a few weeks ago put together in five hours, after one person was killed and others were injuried when a car drove into a group of people protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

This time, with a few days of planning, Bell said organizers are hoping for a larger turnout, though many people had a postivie response to the last rally.

“We got a lot of thumbs up,” she said.

In small towns, such as ones in Coles County, there may be fewer resources for people of color or those of different faiths, Bell said.

“We want everyone to know there are good folks here,” she said. “We’re going to stand together against this.”

Those interested in participating can meet at the park and bring signs. Organizers plan to stand by the sidewalk along Lincoln Avenue but stay out of the street.

“Sometimes … people don’t have a venue, they don’t have a way to speak their values and speak their truths,” Bell said. “We wanted to provide that.”

Bell said the rally is not meant to be partisan.

“This is not designed to be anti-Trump. It’s designed to be anti-hate,” she said. “I don’t know how you could not stand up against hate.”

The News staff can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].