FRAMINGHAM – On Saturday, a car slammed into a crowd protesting a white supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, injuring 19 and killing Heather Heyer, 32.
On Sunday, Framingham joined communities across the Commonwealth and the country to hold a vigil for Heyer and the other victims and to denounce hate. There were vigils in Natick, Sudbury and other MetroWest communities last night, too.
Framingham resident and mayoral candidate Dhruba Sen organized last night’s candlelight vigil on the steps of the Memorial Building in downtown Framingham.
“Injustice somewhere is a threat to justice every where,” said Sen, on why he organized the vigil. “Racism, bigotry, xenophobia,and hate has no place in Framingham.”
Sen is the founder of MetroWest Showing Up For Racial Justice, a founding member of Framingham Comes Together, and one of the organizers of Welcoming Framingham.
Sen, who began organizing the event on Sunday, said he was happy the vigil drew a crowd of about 100, including six of the seven mayoral candidates, and several other candidates running for political office in the historic first City of Framingham election.
Editor’s Note: Video by Daniel Morales.
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“I was particularly happy that most mayoral and council candidates joined us,” said Sen. “I was very pleased the way competing candidates came together.”
Mayoral candidates in attendance included Sen, Joshua Horrigan, Ben Neves-Grigg, Yvonne Spicer, John Stefanini, and Priscilla Sousa. The seventh candidate Mark Tilden was already scheduled to be at a campaign fundraiser at the same time. All of the mayoral candidates were allowed to speak at the event.
The Committee to Elect Yvonne Spicer sent out a media alert about the vigil.
In the alert, Spicer said “I am deeply dismayed by the events in Charlottesville, VA. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and the people that have been injured or lost their lives. I will be there tonight – on the steps of the Memorial Building as our community acknowledges that hatred toward any group is not acceptable. Silence can be construed as complacency and acceptance. Let’s unite and break the silence in Framingham and beyond.”
Sen told the crowd last night “Framingham can rise above political differences during an election season and rally together to condemn racism, Bigotry, neonazism , Xenophobia. We must remain united. America has made huge progress on various fronts – we can’t go back hundreds of years back.”
At times, the crowd chanted “Love Trumps Hate.”
The event also drew religious leaders from several churches in Framingham.
Framingham Selectmen Chair Charlie Sisitsky, who attended the vigil with his wife Robin said “there is no room for hate in Framingham.
“Framingham embraces all people regardless of their race, religion, or sexual orientation,” he added.
“It is great to stand with many of the other candidates for office in Framingham to say loud and clear for all to hear that hate has no home here,” said Stefanini, after the event. “And thank you for Dhruba Sen for organizing tonight’s vigil.”
“I despise what is happening in Virginia! Division and violence will never be accepted in Framingham nor condoned in America,” said Neves-Grigg, after last night’s vigil. Our soon-city has a diverse, wonderful population where all are welcome and everyone should be allowed to live in peace, without fear of bias or prejudice.”
“Tonight, we as a community showed that hate has no home in Framingham. It’s important for us to understand that a community does not go from peace to vehicles mowing down crowds in a racially motivated attack overnight. It starts with seeing others as “them” and normalizing “us vs. them.” It is that level of dehumanization that creates fatal levels of conflict in our communities and in order to avoid that we must remain vigilant,” said mayoral candidate Sousa after the event. “I saw a group of tremendously vigilant people around me tonight and I’m honored to share a community with them.”
Mayoral candidate Horrigan said after the event “Vigils are good but they are not enough. It’s time we become proactive before we hit a point of no return in our country.”
Photos by Daniel Morales
Photo submitted to Framingham Source by readers