A vigil calling for solidarity with Charlottesville, Virginia, and an end to white supremacy was held in downtown Bowling Green Sunday night. The event was in response to the deadly attack on counter-protesters at a white supremacist rally Saturday in Charlottesville that killed one person and injured at least 19 others.
About 200 people attended the vigil, holding candles in support of victims and signs in protest of white supremacy. Will Heller brought his son to the event to show him how people can come together and unite against hate.
“This is a very diverse society and when you see everyone coming together like this and he can witness that and he can understand what it means then I think it’s something very special,” Heller said.
Heller described seeing people gather in solidarity in a diverse society like Bowling Green as a unique opportunity, and something he wanted his son to see. Heller said people need to wake up and become more aware of the hate in society in order to fight it.
Vigil attendee Akisha Townsend Eaton said issues of racism can’t be solved overnight but seeing people coming together and recognizing the issue is a hopeful starting point for her.
“Incidents of hate can arise anywhere. People who perpetrate it can be our neighbors, people around us and it’s really nice to see how the community is responding and saying this won’t be tolerated,” Townsend Eaton said.
Townsend Eaton has a friend who was injured in the Charlottesville attack. She said seeing a friend attacked for standing up for something she believed in was upsetting. She noted it’s disappointing that something like what happened in Charlottesville can happen in 2017.
Byron Nesbitt, a senior at Western Kentucky University, said he hopes the vigil will show that people can come together and get along despite their differences. He added people deserve a chance to live and not have their lives cut short by violence.
“It’s so unfortunate because there’s no telling what these people left behind, like family and friends and stuff like that. No telling what they had ahead of them,” Nesbitt said.
Nesbitt hopes this vigil shows that there are people who value life no matter their own beliefs or race.
Denise Anderson of Bowling Green says she’s been glued to the news, and shocked by what happened.
“Kind of a feeling like 9/11. How can this be happening in my country? Makes me want to cry,” Anderson said.
Anderson said it’s hard to imagine things getting better under President Donald Trump’s administration.
Trump drew criticism from Democrats and many Republicans when he didn’t denounce white supremacist groups by name following the deadly violence in Charlottesville.
The Bowling Green vigil was organized by a local social justice group, with speakers from a local Black Lives Matter group and Kentuckians For The Commonwealth.