Hundreds gather at Connecticut rallies in New London, West Hartford for Charlottesville victims

Patricia Dolan, right, of New London, Heather Denman, center, of Mystic and Jeanne Martin, left, of Groton stand at the base of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in New London on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017, with others who gathered in solidarity with the victims of a violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. over the weekend. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Patricia Dolan, right, of New London, Heather Denman, center, of Mystic and Jeanne Martin, left, of Groton stand at the base of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in New London on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017, with others who gathered in solidarity with the victims of a violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. over the weekend. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

Connecticut activists preached love and tolerance at a rally Sunday in West Hartford that drew hundreds in solidarity with the victims of the violence that erupted during a white nationalist rally in Virginia on Saturday.

"If you want this country to be what you want it to be, you must stand up," Art Miller, a Catholic clergyman said. "We as a country must stand up because too many of us are silent."

The West Hartford rally, organized by Indivisible CT and the Women's March CT, drew hundreds to West Hartford Center to rally against the turbulent events in Charlottesville, Va.

Across Connecticut local activist groups pulled together vigils and rallies in solidarity with Charlottesville. In addition to Sunday morning's rally in West Hartford, vigils were planned for Wethersfield, Middletown, Bridgeport and New Haven.

In New London, about 100 people gathered at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at the Parade to show their solidarity with the protesters against white nationalists in Virginia.

On Saturday, three were killed and dozens were injured in the quiet Virginia college town when a car rammed into a crowd of protesters and a state police helicopter crashed into the woods as tension boiled over at a white supremacist rally.

The chaos erupted around what is believed to be the largest group of white nationalists to come together in a decade — including neo-Nazis, skinheads, members of the Ku Klux Klan — who descended on the city to "take America back" by rallying against plans to remove a Confederate statue.

Hundreds came to protest against the racism. There have been street brawls and violent clashes; the governor declared a state of emergency, police in riot gear ordered people out and helicopters circled overhead.

Police charged the driver of the car, James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old who recently moved to Ohio from where he grew up in Kentucky, with second-degree murder and other counts.

Indivisible CT organizer Jim Chapdelaine of West Hartford said the rally was organized overnight to stand in solidarity with the counter-protesters and victims of the violence. Addressing the crowd, Chapdelaine thanked the protesters for peacefully rejecting racism.

"This is what democracy looks like," he said. "I think it's time to call this radical terrorism. We're not calling people names, we're calling it what it is."

The rally began with a moment of silence for 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was struck by the car that plowed into a group of peaceful protesters.

 

People gather at the Parade Plaza in downtown New London to show solidarity with the victims of a violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. over the weekend. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
People gather at the Parade Plaza in downtown New London to show solidarity with the victims of a violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. over the weekend. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

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