Local rallies held in solidarity against white nationalist events in Virginia

(Photo Credit: Lauren Linder, NEWS10 ABC)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – People across the country are still in shock after a car rammed into a crowd protesting a white nationalist rally Saturday afternoon.

One woman was killed and dozens of others were injured.

Sunday night, area communities held rallies to show their solidarity with Charlottesville, Virginia, including right here in Albany.

Hundreds of people came to Townsend Park in Albany, uniting against hate and bigotry.

It was organized by several local organizations within hours after Saturday’s chaos, and the message spread quickly.

People have been speaking out against hate and bigotry, denouncing neo-Nazism, white supremacy and racism. Their message was certainly heard.

Community leaders led chants to excite the crowd.

It was a showing of solidarity in Albany, as people from all walks of life standing together to condemn the hatred and violence in Charlottesville, some coming from as far as Hoosick falls.

By making their voices heard they feel they can initiate change.

“My father fought a war to stop that,” said Mike Chapman of Hoosick Falls.

Mike and Phyllis Chapman are worried the country is taking a step backwards, after the latest actions from white supremacists.

“The concept of white supremacy is simply not compatible with freedom and justice for all,” said Phyllis Chapman.

This chaos hits close to home for Karen Bonventre, who went to college at the University of Virginia.

“The community of Charlottesville is a wonderful, progressive, loving community. It’s so upsetting that such hate would happen in a place like that,” Bonventre said.

So, it was important for her to come out and show her support.

“I want to stand against the alt-right. I want to stand for progressive, love and good things,” Bonventre said. “I think citizen action makes all the difference in the world.”

She and others say it’s the only way to initiate any kind of change.

“Until they actually see people, see people and see people, they’ll ignore it,” Mike Chapman said.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY) heard their concerns and encourage their colleagues to as well.

“Make it very clear, there is no room for hatred and bigotry and Nazism,” Sheehan said.

“Silence is deafening in this case. What happened has to be renounced. Leadership is about bringing the country together, not dividing it,” Tonko said.

But until that time, people here in Albany and around the country will keep speaking out.

“Let’s try to stop it before it gets worse,” Mike Chapman said.

“All of us together are concerned about what hatred will do to our humanity and if we lose that then we’re not human beings,” said Cessie Alfonso, Citizen Action NY board member.

A candlelight vigil supporting the victims of Charlottesville will be held at Glens Falls City Park Monday night at 8 p.m. Other area communities in the Capital Region and surrounding areas have also been holding events and vigils over the past few days.

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