Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Local residents rally to show support for victims of hate, bigotry, violence in Charlottesville

By Michele Bourdieu

During a rally in support of the victims of recent racist violence in Charlottesville, Va., local concerned citizens cross the Portage Lift Bridge on Aug. 13, 2017, displaying signs against racism, bigotry and hatred. (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- With less than 24 hours' notice, a group of concerned citizens gathered at the Houghton waterfront park on Sunday evening, Aug. 13, for a rally and walk across the Portage Lift Bridge to show solidarity with the victims of racist violence last weekend in Charlottesville, Va.

Among participants in the rally are, from left, Miguel and Anita Levy of Chassell and Gustavo Bourdieu of Hancock, displaying signs in preparation for the march. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

After a brief candlelight vigil, about 50 participants walked across the Portage Lift Bridge to Hancock and back, displaying signs expressing their opposition to racism, bigotry and hatred and their hopes for healing love.

Chris Alquist and her son Toby Dawson light candles during the vigil at Houghton's waterfront park on Sunday, Aug. 13. (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

Emily Shaw, Michigan Tech graduate student in Civil and Environmental Engineering, who organized the march via Facebook and email -- posting the announcement just after midnight on Sunday morning, Aug. 13 -- said about 50 people showed up for the event Sunday evening.

"I think it's important for us in the Houghton area to create a community that is supportive of and welcoming to people of color, and that demands that we denounce white supremacy," Shaw said.

According to Shaw, the Houghton rally was one of 400 similar events held across the country to show solidarity with the victims of the violent white supremacy demonstration in Charlottesville, Va.*

Carrying signs of protest, local residents rally to resist the recent racist violence in Charlottesville, Va. They march from the waterfront in Houghton, Mich., to the Portage Lift Bridge, cross the bridge and return. Passing vehicles show support by honking horns. Click on YouTube icon for larger screen. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Petra Huentemeyer, Michigan Tech professor of physics, said she participated in the Houghton rally because she was so shocked to see the video of the violence in Charlottesville.

"I thought I'd come out here to support peace and diversity and also minorities that don't have a voice," Huentemeyer said. "It's good to see that quite a few people are conscious of the problem."

Sarah Hoy, who is doing her second year of post-doctoral studies in forestry at Michigan Tech and on Isle Royale, with the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose study, had a similar reaction to the events in Virginia.

"I was very upset and saddened by what happened in Virginia, and I came here to show support," she said.

Liz Mahoney and her husband, Carlos Amador, Michigan Tech professor of Spanish, also participated in the rally after learning about it through Facebook. No stranger to rallies and protests, Mahoney said she has been an activist since living in Austin, Texas.

Several members of the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship participated in the Houghton rally and displayed this banner in reaction to the hate groups' actions in Charlottesville. (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

The rally concluded with a brief message from Chris Rothbauer, pastor at the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (KUUF), and thanks from organizer Emily Shaw:

The Rev. Chris Rothbauer, pastor of the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Houghton, speaks to rally participants on the importance of meeting together to resist racism and antisemitism. Emily Shaw, rally organizer, announces she will post communications of future events on Facebook and via email. Click on YouTube icon for larger screen. (Video by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)**

The rally and walk were quiet and peaceful with the exception of a very loud truck that drove very fast past the walkers, spewing black, malodorous exhaust on them.

* Emily Shaw said she learned of these community resistance events through the non-profit, grassroots group Indivisible. Click here for information on their work.

** To learn about future events like this you can email Emily Shaw at shaw.emily2@gmail.com and ask her to add you to her email list. You can also go to the Facebook page Keweenaw Showing Up for Racial Justice.

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