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Equity is our race, culture, ethnicity, and identity blog. The blog focuses on coverage important to Illinois and its improvement. Evidence of performance of public policies and their impact will be reported and analyzed. We encourage you to engage in commenting and discussing the coverage of equity and diversity:Maureen Foertsch McKinney and Rachel Otwell curate this blog that will provide follow-up to full-length stories, links to other reports of interest, statistics, and conversations with you about the issues and stories.

Springfield Holds Vigil For Charlottesville

Central Illinois residents gather outside Springfield city hall.
Rachel Otwell
NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS
Central Illinois residents gather outside Springfield city hall.

About 300 people gathered near the fountains outside city hall in Springfield Sunday night. They were there to hold a vigil for racial unity in the wake of violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Various politicians and religious leaders spoke. The gathering was organized to condemn hate and honor the life of Heather Heyer- who was killed when she was struck by a car while counter protesting a white supremacist rally. Many others were injured. The Springfield event was among many nationwide focused on racial tensions.

Sunshine Clemons is co-founder of thelocal Black Lives Matter chapter. "It's very frustrating to look at what's going on and know that there is so much support for people that hate you." Meanwhile, she says, the vigil was organized because: "We want to come together in unity and in love." Clemons spoke about a resolutionthe state Senate approved in response to the violence over the weekend, it: "Urges law enforcement to recognize white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups as terrorist organizations, and to pursue dismantling the criminal elements of these domestic terrorist organizations in the same manner as other manifestations of terrorism." Clemons says she'd like to see that become the law. In a statement, Governor Bruce Rauner referred to the attack on counter-protesters in Charlottesville as an act of "domestic terrorism."

Samantha Flores attended the rally holding a sign that said 'Love Your Neighbor: Your Black, Brown, Immigrant, Disabled, Religiously Different, LGBTQ, Fully Human Neighbor.' She was there with her nearly two year old daughter. She says, "It's so sad that white supremacists and racists are still alive right now, that they're still flourishing ... I'm happy I came today because I feel like a weight's kind of been lifted off." Flores says she's an activist and will continue the fight for justice and racial equality.

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Rachel Otwell of the Illinois Times is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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