Hoisting candles and anti-racism signs into the air, more than a thousand people converged on Lake Calhoun on Sunday night to denounce racism in the wake of Saturday’s violent white nationalist rally and counterprotest in Charlottesville, Va.
Saturday’s events, which left one person dead and injured at least 19 others after a car plunged into a crowd of counter-demonstrators, spurred organizers across the country — and the Twin Cities — to plan vigils, rallies and protests to show support for those affected by the Charlottesville violence.
The Minneapolis “solidarity vigil” featured a slate of speakers, many of them local religious leaders. Attendees sang songs, chanted and carried signs saying “No racist U.S.A.” and “Solidarity Trumps hate.”
“We’re going to have to name the truth as we see it,” said pastor DeWayne Davis of All God’s Children church. “If it is white supremacy, call it that and say ‘No more.’ ”
Davis’ comment referenced a statement President Donald Trump made about the recent violence, which some said didn’t call out white nationalists’ actions strongly enough.
Speaker Ashley Harness, a pastor from Lyndale United Church of Christ, said she came as a white Christian woman to “repent for the sins of white supremacy.”
State Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, DFL-New Brighton, told the crowd this was the third vigil she had attended. She called on people to “step out of their comfort zone” and take action by bringing up racism with family members.
Just a week ago, a Bloomington mosque was bombed, Javier Morillo, a local union leader, reminded the crowd.
“We have to recognize that this is not just a problem in Charlottesville,” Morillo said.
The vigil lasted about an hour. Similar events were planned in St. Paul, Coon Rapids, St. Cloud and Apple Valley, among other locations.
Johan Baumeister, the vigil’s organizer, started planning late Saturday night, he said.
Word about Sunday night’s event, which ended with some attendees walking around the lake carrying candles, spread mostly over Facebook.
Attendee Sybil Luft came from the northwest metro, motivated by the memory of her father, who landed on the beach at Normandy during WWII.
There is no room for Nazis to “have a place in this world again,” Luft said. “If you’re not heartbroken over what’s going on, you’re not paying attention.”