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 the local 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 resolution the 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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