LOADING

Type to search

(PHOTOS) Hundreds gather in Decatur for peace rally following violence in Charlottesville

Decatur slideshow

(PHOTOS) Hundreds gather in Decatur for peace rally following violence in Charlottesville

Two attendees of the Stand With Charlottesville vigil in Decatur, Ga., pass the flame as they light their candles at the start of the vigil. The gathering, held August 13, 2017, brought hundreds of people from Decatur and the surrounding areas. Photo by Annalise Kaylor
Share

Two attendees of the Stand With Charlottesville vigil in Decatur, Ga., pass the flame as they light their candles at the start of the vigil. The gathering, held August 13, 2017, brought hundreds of people from Decatur and the surrounding areas. Photo by Annalise Kaylor

By Gabriel Owens, contributor 

Hundreds of people gathered in the Decatur Square on Sunday evening for a peace rally and candlelight vigil following violence at a rally in Charlottesville, Va.

“We are here tonight to honor three people who lost their lives,” said Meymoona Freeman, a local activist.  “We come together today as Americans in solidarity and respect.”

[adsanity id=36760 align=aligncenter /]

The rally in Virginia on Saturday was held by white nationalists to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. It drew counter protesters and the event became violent and chaotic.

Photo by Annalise Kaylor

Virginia officials confirmed that 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. of Maumee, Ohio, was arrested and has been booked on suspicion of second-degree murder, malicious wounding and failure to stop for an accident involving a death. Fields allegedly drove a car into a crowd of counter protesters.  Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old woman who was crossing the street, was among those killed and 16 others were injured, the Associated Press confirmed with hospital officials. Two Virginia state troopers were killed in a helicopter crash that occurred while they were working the rally. Altogether 35 people were treated for injuries.

The gathering in Decatur was a short, peaceful event with the crowd holding up candles and a few signs calling for peace and an end to bigotry.

“This is about respect,” said Freeman. “I want everyone here to speak out about respect.”

Stella Cerna-Fields, age 10, holds a sign during the moment of silence during the Stand With Charlottesville vigil in Decatur, Ga., on August 13, 2017. Her mother, Amy Fields, stands beside her. Photo by Annalise Kaylor

The crowd responded with calls for respect and understanding.  Following an affirmation for peace and a five-minute moment of silence for the victims, the impromptu gathering dispersed and ended peacefully.  The rally lasted 30 minutes.

While keeping the event about peace and respect, Freeman later spoke more strongly about hate groups and remaining vigilant.

“We shouldn’t mince words about what certain groups are,” she said. “If they are Nazis, we need to call them Nazis. If they are white supremacists, we need to call them white supremacists.”

The rally took place near a Confederate monument in the square that was erected in 1908. The monument is owned by DeKalb County, according to City Manager Peggy Merriss, and the county is responsible for its upkeep.

After the Stand With Charlottesville candlelight vigil on August 13. 2017, in Decatur, Ga., attendees gather to discuss the controversial “Lost Cause” monument in Decatur Square.

There’ve been calls in the community for the monument’s removal but there hasn’t been any organized effort to do so.

“I think it’s ironic that this vigil was held in the shadow of the same kind of monument that the far right wanted to ‘protect,'” Decatur resident Cenate Pruitt said.

The peace rally in Decatur Square was among many similar events around the Atlanta area and across the country following the events this weekend in Virginia.

Here are more photos of Sunday’s vigil taken by Annalise Kaylor:

Members of a wedding party watch from the Decatur courthouse as the attendees of the Stand With Charlottesville vigil gather in Decatur, Ga., on August 13. 2017. Vigil organizers began by asking the group to participate quietly so as not to disrupt the wedding nearby. Photo by Annalise Kaylor

Photo by Annalise Kaylor

Photo by Annalise Kaylor

Families attended the Stand With Charlottesville vigil in Decatur, Ga., on August 13, 2017.

Stand With Charlottesville organizer Martha Shockey addresses the group that gathered for the vigil in Decatur, Ga., on August 13, 2017. Photo by Annalise Kaylor

Stand With Charlottesville vigil organizer Meymoona Freeman leads the group in “I will respect” statements during the gather in Decatur, Ga., on August 13, 2017. Photo by Annalise Kaylor

Photo by Annalise Kaylor

Photo by Annalise Kaylor

Photo by Annalise Kaylor

Photo by Annalise Kaylor

Meymoona Freeman, one of the organizers of the Stand With Charlottesville vigil in Decatur, Ga., addresses the crowd of hundreds as the vigil begins on August 13, 2017. Photo by Annalise Kaylor

A crowd of hundreds, many of them dressed in all white, gathered in Decatur Square in Decatur, Ga. as part of the Stand With Charlottesville vigil on August 13, 2017. Photo by Annalise Kaylor

Vigil-goers carried signs, flowers, and wore white as they gathered during the Stand With Charlottesville vigil in Decatur, Ga., on August 13, 2017.

A woman attending the Stand With Charlottesville vigil in Decatur, Ga., prepares her candle as the crowd gathers on August 13, 2017. Photo by Annalise Kaylor

Four year-old Hadley, of Decatur, Ga., squats on the sidewalk near her family while they wait for the Stand With Charlottesville vigil to begin in Decatur, Ga., on Sunday, August 13, 2017. Photo by Annalise Kaylor

Photo by Annalise Kaylor

Lilli Lindbeck of Atlanta, Ga., holds a photo of Heather Heyer as part of the Stand With Charlotte vigil in Decatur, Ga. on August 13, 2017. Heyer was killed on Saturday in Charlottesville, Va., after a car drove into a crowd of demonstrators protesting at a white nationalist rally. Photo by Annalise Kaylor


[adsanity id=35598 align=aligncenter /]

[adsanity id=28960 align=aligncenter /]

Decaturish needs your support!

Help us provide you with free, quality local news. Become a Decaturish.com supporter today

To chip in $3 a month, click here.

To chip in $6 a month, click here.

To chip in $60 a year, click here.
* Decaturish.com is not a 501-c-3 organization. Support of Decaturish goes toward our newsgathering efforts. Decaturish does not have a print edition.
close-link