New Bedford vigil honors Charlottesville victims, looks to spark change

By John Krinjak

Email: jkrinjak@abc6.com

Twitter: @johnkrinjakABC6

NEW BEDFORD, MA (WLNE) – Residents gathered in New Bedford Tuesday night to send a message–that hate and violence have no place in our communities.

They came together in solidarity with the victims in Charlottesville–and in hopes of sparking change.

It may have been a dank and dreary evening, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of about 200 people who turned out in front of City Hall.

They spoke with one unified message–that New Bedford has no place for hate. 

People of all races and walks of life joined hands, calling for an end to hate-fueled violence.

"Tonight it’s about healing. Tonight it’s about offering prayers and support," said Rev. David Lima of the Inter-Church Council of Greater New Bedford. 

"To make a statement as a community in denouncing racism and hatred and all of what’s been generated," said New Bedford NAACP President Bruce Rose. 

"We’re not going to tolerate these kinds of acts, no matter where they happen," said Candida Rose Baptiste, who sang at the vigil. 

Religious leaders spoke about the danger of white supremacy–with one Rabbi saying that Jews know well what hate-filled groups are capable of.

City officials say it’s up to everyone to stand up to hatred. 

"This can happen anywhere. And it takes a small cancer cell of hate that can penetrate any community," said Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro. 

"When bigotry rears its head, we will call it out," said Mayor Jon Mitchell.

The crowd here hope others listen to New Bedford’s message of love and compassion. 

"It’s important that we represent everybody. Not just who’s white, not just who has money, but everybody," said Melissa Danforth of New Bedford. 

"If all all the communities get together and do this then hopefully they’ll be strengthened," said Joanne Hickey of New Bedford. 

Before leaving everyone was asked to spend five minutes getting to know someone they’d never met before–who might look different from them. The goal–to spark a change here at home that just might spread nationwide. 

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2017