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Parties come together

Photo by Tevin Stinson

Parties come together
August 17
05:00 2017

The unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend has spurred much reaction across the nation and in Winston-Salem.

Mayor Allen Joines on Tuesday released the following statement about the events in Charlottesville over the weekend: “Our city stands with Charlottesville Mayor Mike Singer and his strong leadership as he and his community fight against hate and bigotry. Such actions have no place in our society and must be condemned immediately when they occur. The citizens of Winston-Salem and I are in solidarity with the people of the great city of Charlottesville.”

On Wednesday night, the Ministers’ Conference of Winston Salem & Vicinity and Della Brook Presbyterian Church co-sponsored a memorial service for Heather Heyer of Charlottesville, who died on Saturday during unrest there.

Rev. Dr.  Lamonte Williams, president of the Ministers’ Conference of Winston Salem & Vicinity, said that the faith community of Winston and Vicinity desires to stand in solidarity on the same day with the family and friends of an activist who stood for justice and was slain while standing for justice.

In a statement, he quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”

On Sunday evening, in response to the events in Charlottesville on Saturday that led to the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, more than 300 people gathered in downtown Winston-Salem to let white supremacists know that hate is not welcomed here.

The candlelight vigil, aptly named “Hate Has No Home Here,” was hosted by the Young Democrats of Forsyth County, the Forsyth County Teenage Republicans, and the Winston-Salem Urban League Young Professionals. People of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, races and genders gathered at West Third Street in Merschel Plaza to show solidarity with those who stood up against white supremacist groups who ignited a protest in Charlottesville.

On Saturday afternoon, a group of counter-protesters were making their way down a crowded street when a driver who has been identified as James Alex Fields Jr., drove a car through the crowd of peaceful protesters, injuring 19 and taking Heyer’s life. Reports say just before the attack, Fields was seen at the white supremacist rally carrying signs with racist symbols.

Third vice chair of the Forsyth County Democrats, Isaiah Fletcher, said now is the time to speak out against injustice of all kinds.

“The one thing that makes us stronger than anything is the fact that, Number One, we are human. Number Two, we are mankind. And at the end of the day, we’re American. We are a nation of immigrants. So my message moving forward is when you see injustice, speak out about it,” he continued. “When you see someone is not being treated with the true compassion that they deserve, if not as an American but just as a human being, you have to stand up for it.”

Connor Groce, leader of the Forsyth County Teenage Republicans, said he believed both parties coming together despite their differences could have a unifying effect across the country. Groce, who is a student at West Forsyth High School, said “Yesterday we saw a tragedy. We saw people walking around wanting to be patriots.

“My great-grandfather was a patriot. He went overseas and wore the uniform and fought for this country against the Nazi’s in World War II. That is what patriotism looks like. And I’ll tell what patriotism doesn’t look like: eight decades later, people coming here at home waving Nazi flags. That is not what patriotism looks like.” 

State Sen. Paul Lowe, Rev. Kenneth Pettigrew and three participants in the Charlottesville anti-white-supremacy protest spoke during the vigil as well. While listening to Senator Lowe share his thoughts on the tragic event, Raymond Miller said he decided to come to the vigil to show his support for those who stood up against white supremacists in Virginia. He said he heard about the event from social media.

“I think it’s wonderful they decided to do something locally to show support. It’s good to see everybody coming together for a change.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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