Community Rally provides hope
“Hate has no home here.”
These words, spoken by John Clay, president of the Wooster/Orrville chapter of the NAACP, quickly became the theme of the Wooster CommUNITY Rally held Aug. 29.
The rally, attended by upward of 1,000 people, according to The Daily Record, was organized by the local NAACP chapter as a response to the local KKK recruitment fliers found in several locations around Wooster.
The Akron Beacon Journal reports on Aug. 25 that flyers intended to recruit new members to a local branch of the Ku Klux Klan were found strewn in plastic bags, along with candy.
“When I saw that flyer and bag… fear shot through me. So here we are, as a community, about to do this [oppose the KKK] again,” Clay said in his speech.
In order to “do this again,” Clay stressed that members of both the Democratic and Republican parties must work together to combat hate.
“This is a nonpartisan event. This is a time to be together,” he told the crowd.
Joining Clay as speakers were, among others, Betsy Sheets and Brian Deeken, the chairpersons of the Wayne County Democratic National Party and Republican National Party, respectively, who both stressed the importance of working together across party lines to combat hate.
In his speech, Deeken urged listeners to escape their, “echo chambers of confirmation bias” by engaging in dialogue with opposing party members. Hearing different viewpoints is the first step to eradicating ignorance, he said.
“Racism is born of fear and ignorance. Fear and ignorance can both be overcome,” Deeken continued.
Although the speakers all delivered similar messages with a similar stance, the rally did face a bit of backlash. The small group of protesters in attendance were directed by police to stand south of Liberty st., set apart by dividers, in order to avoid violence, according to officer Mike Jewell.
However, one member of the counterprotest, Ron Morrow, stood north of Liberty with those rallying for the cause, to nonviolently watch the demonstration.
“I think white people should take priority. I mean, the minorities are about 16 percent of the population; white people should take priority… Liberals want to play the race card and take down Confederate monuments, but they are erasing history,” Morrow said.
Although Morrow and his fellow counter protesters may see the people in attendance as going too far, many see this rally as just the beginning.
Nate Addington, Director of Social Responsibility at the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at the COW, said “This rally gives me hope for the future of Wooster. I see it as a stepping-off point for the town and the college.”
After what Addington calls a long period of political division, “To see the chairs of RNC and DNC, democrats and right-wingers at the same rally, its enheartening.”