Local vigils condemn violence in Charlottesville, Virginia

Monday, August 14, 2017 06:23AM
Vigils continue as folks condemn the violence in Charlottesville. Annie McCormick reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on August 13, 2017.

ROXBOROUGH - Vigils condemning Saturday's violence in Charlottesville, Virginia were held in several locations around the greater Philadelphia region Sunday.

Hundreds of people converged on Gorgas Park in Philadelphia's Roxborough section Sunday night.

The event began with words from a rabbi who was in the center of the chaos in Charlottesville.

Rabbi Malkah Binah Klein went as part of a group to Charlottesville answering a rabbinic call for human rights. They got word the white nationalist rally was forming a month ago.

"I saw groups of counter-protesters marching down the perpendicular street to face the white supremacists," Rabbi Binah Klein said.

Her experience resonated with the crowd.

Jared Jackson of Mount Airy said, "As someone who is Jewish and African American, and dedicated to liberation for both people, this means my life - not just the vigil, but the actions that we take."

Julie Odell of Roxborough Manayunk Indivisible organized the event.

"I don't think that it's right to stay silent, so (we are) coming together, standing up," she said.

There were similar shows of support in Center City Philadelphia, South Philadelphia, West Chester, Pa., Elkins Park, Pa., and Haddon Township, N.J.

Local leaders in Philadelphia spoke out Sunday, including the president of the Philadelphia NAACP.

Minister Rodney Muhammad said, "This wasn't a ball park game where a fight broke out. This was organized. One person even described that some of the white nationalists were dressed. They came for combat. They came for battle."

Mayor Jim Kenney released a lengthy statement, saying, in part:

"All of us have a responsibility to create the future we want. Just saying we oppose something is no longer enough - we have to remind people what we stand for."

Kenney went on to encourage Philadelphians to stay peaceful but remain engaged.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput issued a statement, saying, in part:

"If we want a different kind of country in the future, we need to start today with a conversion in our own hearts, and an insistence on the same in others."

Reaction also came from the football field.

Philadelphia Eagle Chris Long, a Charlottesville native and University of Virginia graduate, said, "You grapple with how to react when you see that imagery, and you know it's your hometown."

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