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'Bringing back the light': Rise Up Mystic hosts vigil for democracy one year after insurrection at the Capitol

Mystic — At least 50 people crowded near a bare liberty flagpole in Mystic on Thursday evening, each face illuminated by the candle in their hands and the atmosphere somber but hopeful.

Rise Up Mystic was one of many grassroot activist coalitions across America hosting a vigil on the one-year anniversary of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, advocating for the protection of voter rights.

In his opening remarks, Jason Hine, co-founder of Rise Up Mystic, said he recently heard the insurrection at the Capitol was just the first insurrection. He said the second one, against voter rights, is taking place at a much slower rate than the first but, nonetheless, is happening.

Joanne Moore, co-chair of the League of Women Voters of Southeastern Connecticut, was at Thursday's vigil to urge attendees to call their local elected officials and place voter protection laws as a priority. She said within two weeks the Senate could be voting on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would assure any voting rules that could discriminate against voters based on race or background are federally reviewed.

Moore said many of her family members served in the military and, although she was raised patriotic, she felt like she never did anything.

After raising her kids and retiring, she is now devoting her time to empowering voters. "This is my time to serve my country," she said.

To Jaye Lyon of Stonington, each person brought their own light — literally and figuratively — to "bring back light to the darkness after the horror we saw last year." She reached out to Rise Up Mystic about doing a vigil when she couldn't find one near her.

Lyon said she is appalled that people continue to believe in the "big lie," referring to the baseless claim that the 2020 election was stolen. She said the vigil was a way to stand up for democracy and everyone's right to vote, regardless of their beliefs and background.

"Democracy and the right to vote is a nonpartisan issue," she said.

As someone with a Christian spirituality, Lyon said what strikes her most but is not talked about often is that the insurrection happened on the day of Epiphany, when most Western Christians celebrate the visit of the magi to the infant Jesus.

"It's when we celebrate the light that came into the world," she said, "and that light was nonviolent and peaceful."

j.vazquez@theday.com

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