Anti-hate rally in Wallingford draws dozens downtown

Anti-hate rally in Wallingford draws dozens downtown

Record-Journal


WALLINGFORD — Participants encouraged passing cars to “honk against hate” at a rally downtown Tuesday evening, waving handwritten signs at one of the town’s busiest intersections.

About 40 people attended the rally against racism and other forms of discrimination at the gazebo in Johanna Manfreda Fishbein Park on Route 5, organized by a group of local activists and a candidate for the Wallingford Town Council in response to the white nationalist rally and counter-protest that erupted into violence in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12.

“After Charlottesville, we wanted to do something,” said organizer Alexa Tomassi, of Wallingford.

“We just all really care and think it’s important to speak out against violence,” she said.

Farah Salam, of the Islamic Center of Wallingford, relayed her experiences growing up Muslim in Wallingford, including being asked while at Walmart what she was hiding under her hijab.

“We don’t want to be silent anymore,” she said from the gazebo steps. “We want to make sure that Wallingford is an inclusive place, that no one is afraid living here.”

Other speakers included Mandy McGuire-Swartz, of the New Haven group Standing Up for Racial Justice, and Gina Morgenstein, a Democratic candidate for Town Council.

Roxanne Buzinsky and Rennie Flores, both of Wallingford, said they attended to show support for the event’s anti-hate message.

“As a Wallingford resident, I feel a duty to stand up for what’s right. Being silent is just as bad as joining the enemy,” Buzinsky said, adding that the enemy is neo-Nazis and other white supremacists.

Flores added the enemy is “just hate in general.”

As news of the rally spread, many commenters on the Record-Journal’s Facebook page and in community forums expressed anger, annoyance and fear earlier in the day that the rally would turn violent, claiming that protesters, paid by a variety of leftist organizations, would show up and cause trouble.

“That’s kind of disheartening that they would assume the rally would be violent,” Buzinsky said.

Police closed Hall Avenue between Route 5 and the railroad crossing in anticipation of Tuesday’s event.

Tomassi said organizers obtained a permit and worked with police to keep the rally safe for everyone.

At 8 p.m. Tuesday, police officials said the department had not received any calls about the rally nor made any arrests in connection with the event.

LTakores@record-journal.com 203-317-2212 Twitter: @LCTakores


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