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Local activists see history in Charlottesville

SILVER SPRING – The violence that erupted in the aftermath of a confrontation between white supremacist groups protesting the removal of a Confederate statue and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va., has stirred painful memories for some area residents.

"It's horrible to see these things happening again," said Rocky Twyman a local activist and veteran of the anti-Jim Crow struggles of the 1960s. "It's truly horrible to see the Nazi flag in America. The Jews helped us in the South during the Civil Rights Movement. They came down to help us organize and spent their money to bail us out of jail."

On Aug. 19, Twyman's Pray at the Pump Movement partnered with Hopeside Seventh Day Adventist Church to hold a "Speak out Concert Against Hate" at Calverton Baptist Church in Silver Spring, where Hopeside holds its Saturday services.

"What we see now is that hate is becoming mainstream," said Anand "Andy" Chavakula, pastor of Hopeside. "Today, I want to encourage people to come together and to launch the slogan 'Standing up against hate is winning for America."

The event featured a musical performance from local saxophonist Michael Bowman, who joined with Twyman, playing piano, to perform "When the Saints Go Marching In" and other gospel songs. Dancer Shanna Lin performed an expressive "dance of connection" for the attendees.

Aubrey Evelyn, who attended, said that recent events had reminded him of the events of his youth in Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York.

"I remember the rioting and the burning buildings in the aftermath of Martin Luther King's assassination and to see the same sorts of things happening again is as mind-blowing as was the election of an African-American president," Evelyn said. "I came today because I believe in the power of the ministry of presence, that it's important to simply show up and make yourself heard, to stand up against hatred."

Attendees signed sympathy cards for the family of Heather Heyer, the woman who was killed in the Charlottesville clash, as well as for the families of the victims of the terrorist attack in Barcelona.

Twyman said that his group plans to organize a demonstration to counter the planned "Mother of all Rallies," a demonstration whose organizers are supporters of President Donald J. Trump and claim to be defending American culture. The rally is scheduled for Sept. 16.

@petersrouleau

 

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