WYSO

Springfield Candlelight Vigil For Charlottesville Victims Draws Hundreds

Aug 17, 2017

More than 200 people sang and held candles at a vigil in downtown Springfield Wednesday night in support of the victims of violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, less than a week ago.
Credit Dan Gummel / WYSO

More than 200 people sang and held candles at a vigil in downtown Springfield Wednesday night in support of the victims of violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, less than a week ago.

Authorities have charged 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. with murder for allegedly driving a vehicle into a group of anti-white nationalist demonstrators at the rally. One person was killed and at least 19 other people were injured in the attack.

The Associated Press reports Fields, who is from the Toledo-area, held admiring views of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.

Speakers at the Springfield vigil included representatives from a variety of community groups such as the NAACP, the Miami Valley Islamic Association and First Baptist Church.

Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland also attended the Indivisible Springfield-organized gathering.

The, "rally is meant to be a response to the events going on in Charlottesville and the subsequent dialogue going on in our country, partially to stand in solidarity with the people of Charlottesville, those who experienced violence and those who lost their lives, and also to make a statement about our community and what we value -- as peace, tolerance and acceptance over hatred and bigotry,” says speaker Jack Legg, president of the group Equality Springfield.

Derek Coalter of Springfield.
Credit Dan Gummel / WYSO

Attendees observed a moment of silence and also sang the song, “This Little Light Of Mine.”

Legg says organizers hoped the candlelight vigil’s large turnout would deliver a strong message of opposition to racial discrimination in the Miami Valley.

"So, in the face of such blatant racism and hatred and bigotry out in the open [in Charlottesville], the only response we can have is to loudly and clearly denounce what is going on,” he says. “The ideology of hatred is not something that will be tolerated or is helpful here in this community.”

Legg says organizers are planning more community anti-violence events in the future.

Gov. John Kasich has sharply criticized President Donald Trump’s response to the Charlottesville violence on social media and in media interviews, calling it “pathetic.”

The Charlottesville rally was organized in response to officials’ announcement they would take down a monument of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.