Peace Rally for Charlottesville

Speech from Martin Luther King's daughter resonateMembers of West Aurora's Gospel Choir performed at the recent YWCA Aurora Leaders of Change Lunc

'We need to be united against racism': Aurora comes together for anti-violence rallyTop o

Peace rally in Aurora

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David Sharos / The Beacon-News, August 19, 2017

The ripple effects from last weekend's violence in Charlottesville, Va., are being felt across the country, as well as right here in Aurora.

A week after a car sped into a crowd of protesters at a white nationalist rally, a much more peaceful event was held in Aurora against violence.

"We need to stand up and be counted, and stand against the voices on social media and show the perpetrators of violence that a small number of people can be larger," said Shoaib Khadri, president of the Islamic Center of Naperville, at an anti-violence rally at Peace Park in Aurora.

Speakers were followed by a peace walk along River Street to Downer Place, Broadway and New York Street before ending back at the park.

Executive director for the YWCA Aurora Melissa Nigro said she has received "a lot of calls, emails and Facebook postings since last week" and that "we felt we needed to take some kind of action following the Charlottesville events."

 
"We've been talking to other national organizations throughout the country this week, and we decided a peace vigil was needed for us to come together and show solidarity for those who are suffering as well as all of us impacted by these extremist events," Nigro said. "Other organizations are having similar events as there has been a national call to action."

Nigro said it was important to "show solidarity and provide a contrast to the violence."

"The imagery of torches, the chanting and the violence were disturbing," Nigro said about the event in Charlottesville. "We must trust people of color when they say that these displays are indicative of daily racial injustices and threats that communities of color continue to face."


Khadri said "it was appalling that 53 years after the Civil Rights Act we're still here talking about race."

"That's the bad news that we still have this intolerance, but the good news is events like this and our voices can be heard," he said.

David Sharos / The Beacon-News

An anti-violence rally was held in downtown Aurora on Saturday. The event was organized as a response to the violence last weekend in Charlottesville, Va.

State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora) spoke before the walk and said President Donald Trump needs to set an example.

"We'll see what happens at the congressional level, but I feel we've diminished the highest elected official by his becoming a CEO, which is not the people we are when we say, 'We the People,'" she said. "We have the ability to eliminate racism and the young people need to see us as role models so they can stand on our shoulders and touch the stars."

Those in attendance ranged from senior citizens to youngsters like Addison Faber, 9, of North Aurora, who came with her father Christopher Faber, who said he felt it was important "to stand together.

"We need to be united against racism, and in general, I think this sends a good message for my daughter to see this and be a part of it," Christopher Faber said. "It's good that my daughter goes to school with a lot of diversity and different nationalities. No one is born racist – you have to be exposed to it."

Addison admitted she has a diverse group of friends and that her mother told her "to stand up for them."

"People in this country have anger issues and just don't accept differences," she said.

Helane Aghayere of Aurora said "we have a long way to go before we become united" and that too many people make judgments based on what they see.

"It all starts with the eyes and people see things and begin to judge, and because of the history we have and things in social media, we keep imprinting the young kids," she said.

Zachary Draves, who attends Aurora University, said he wanted to be present Saturday because he has "a passion regarding inequality and justice."

"I've been at events like this before, and as a nation that is diverse and multi-cultural, this is an attack against all of us," Draves said about Charlottesville. "What I get out of things like this is I'm really committed to justice and equality and you're with people that are the same way. It gives me fulfillment and makes a difference."

David Sharos is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News

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