Residents from Carbondale did their part Sunday to speak out against violence happening throughout the country and specifically the incidents from Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.
A vigil was organized at Gaia House in conjunction with the Women United Network. Local officials, as well as members of the community, gathered in support of the victims and in opposition to white supremacist ideology.
Mayor Mike Henry was first to speak in support of the vigil.
“This is what Carbondale is about,” Henry said. “Getting together and letting people know that we’re a community that embraces diversity. We’re an inclusive community. We have to speak out on things like this, even when they’re very, very far from us.”
Emily Kircher, a community member, spoke to the crowd about what the vigil meant to those who gathered.
“We stand here today to say that we do not accept this violence, this hatred, and we will not be terrorized by white nationalist bullies,” she said.
Kircher also characterized the vigil as “a reminder that the struggle for justice, equality, and inclusion continues today and every day,” encouraging those in attendance to “stand up to racism whenever you hear it. From friends, at work, on social media.”
Catherine Field, a Carbondale School District 95 board member, spoke to the crowd about political power wielded by white supremacists.
“No more hope. They’re not going to get better. They’re not going to give up their power,” Field said. “They’re not going to give up their political position.”
Field went on to encourage the crowd be commit to action.
“Hope allows us to imagine a time when we all would live in peace,” she said. “You’re living in your dreams. If you want this world to get better, abandon hope and get busy.”
Natalie Long, a volunteer with the Southern Illinois Immigrant Rights Project, described the events in Charlottesville as a “bold demonstration by white supremacists.”
Long confronted the use of intense language with the crowd.
“If this language causes discomfort to us gathered here we need to examine why because If we cannot name the thing that is currently surging in our country we will not be able to push back against it,” she said. “And if we limit abstractly painting the problem as hate we limit our capacity to fight what is right on our door step. If we limit our work to changing attitudes but ignore the structures that perpetuate oppression our work will be in vain.”
One of the vigil organizers Ross Bauer encouraged people to stand together against hate.
“We cannot allow ignorance and violence to rule the land,” he said. “ We have to unite against groups like white supremacists. Hate has no