Tensions boiled over Saturday in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, when a car crashed into a group of protesters at a counter demonstration to an alt-right rally.
Nineteen people were injured in the crash, and one protester was killed.
In the wake of this outburst of violence, over 100 members of the Athens community assembled at the University of Georgia Arch for the Stand in Solidarity with Charlottesville rally.
Athens: Stand in Solidarity with Charlottesville UGA Arch 288 N Lumpkin St, Athens, Georgia 30601 August 13, 2017 … https://t.co/oPmWFumykl— ActionGA (@actiongaguide) August 13, 2017
The event was hosted by 100+ Days Athens, a local activist organization. Organizer Carina McGeehin said the protest was as a necessary reaction to the violent events of the previous day.
“I think the events of yesterday were shocking and heartbreaking and scary and infuriating to everyone,” McGeehin said. “We had to show the community that we’re here for one another and that we won’t stand for awful acts of violence like that. We wanted to show everybody that we shouldn’t be afraid in this country to stand up against hate and violence.”
McGeehin said the protest's high attendance was a welcome surprise due to the short amount of time in which the assembly was planned.
She said 100+ Days coordinated with other local organizations such as Together We Will Athens, Athens for Everyone, Indivisible Georgia Distric 10 and others to reach the many organizations’ members to insure a quick turnaround.
Attendees of the demonstration gathered at the tip of North Campus at 1 p.m. carrying signs with messages such as “Hate can’t win. Love is stronger,” “Black Lives Matter” and “Fighting Nazis is an American tradition.”
Signs varied widely in message, some naming Donald Trump and decrying the alt-right, while others focused more on messages of peace and love in the wake of violence.
Mirroring the variety of messages, the event drew a similarly varied crowd of demonstrators, many of which had other concerns and grievances.
“I am from the Netherlands. My dad was in the resistance in the second World War and almost lost his life fighting the Nazis, and I was personally really concerned with what was happening in Charlottesville,” said Simon DeVries-Silvershield, a volunteer with Indivisible Georgia 10. “We should all stand together against hate."
The rally saw a variety of speakers stand up to share their views with the crowd, such as UGA professor and perspective 10th district candidate Richard Winfield, as well as Deborah Gonzalez, candidate for Georgia's 117th state district. Other speakers led demonstrators in chants such as “No Nazis, no KKK, no racist USA.”
McGeehin said the Athens event organizers will continue to remain vigilant and responsive in their activism.
“Keep your eyes open, do your best to show up, talk to your friends and be as loud about your beliefs as you can. Athens is a small community with a big heart,” McGeehin said.