Roughly 60 people marched through John Day Tuesday in a demonstration against hate in solidarity with Charlottesville, Virginia, where a car appeared to intentionally crash into a group of counterprotesters at a “Unite the Right” rally attended by white supremacists.
Dozens were injured, and one person died from the crash. The driver was arrested. Two police officers also died in a helicopter crash while overseeing the marches and counterprotests.
This has sparked condemnation of neo-Nazis, the KKK and similar groups, as well as marches similar to the one in John Day, across the nation.
Demonstrators marched along Main Street to the county’s only stoplight where they chanted, waved signs and stood for photos. To end the evening, Janine Goodwin played a song on her viola in memory of Heather Heyer, Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M. M. Bates, who died during the demonstrations in Charlottesville.
Lindsay Rausch and Ashley Stevick, two local women who organized the John Day march, said they brought people together for the demonstration as an outlet as well as a show of solidarity.
“I was fed up with sitting and reading and thinking and stewing and not doing anything,” Rausch said. “I think that right now, with everything that’s happening, we all need to be doing something to let our voices be heard.”
Rausch advocated for people to talk to their families and friends about issues like white supremacy.
“We’ve dealt with this issue here in Grant County,” Rausch said. “It was just several years ago where we had a neo-Nazi group trying to purchase property and trying to establish headquarters here.”
She said she thought the world took a clear stance on the issue in World War II.
“It feels like we’ve already dealt with this, and it keeps coming back,” Rausch said.
“If your friends give you any crap about attending this event, you need new friends,” Stevick said. “Everyone should be able to get behind this anti-Nazi, pro-love message, unless you are a white supremacist.”
The march was nonpartisan and included people of all ages and all walks of life.
“I came out mainly to show some solidarity in the effort against hate groups in America,” resident John Fiedor said.
He said people need to come together to counter organized hate, violence and bigotry.
“You need to drive hate back into the closet,” he said. “It’s a skeleton. It needs to go back in the closet and stay hidden.”