Big Island Residents Rally for Charlottesville
Big Island residents gathered at the King Kamehameha Statue in Hilo on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017, for The Peace Vigil: Be the Light in response to the death of Heather Heyer, 32, who was killed just the day before in Charlottesville, Virginia, while protesting the Unite the Right white nationalist rally.
The event was one of several candlelight vigils planned in Heyer’s memory on Sunday, including commemorations initiated by the Women’s March – Hawai‘i Island, Sierra Club Moku Loa, Friends of Heather Kimball, Shannon Matson and NWPC Hawaii.
The Peace Vigil: Be the Light was planned to honor, mourn, unite and send a message of peace, solidarity and aloha.
The evening included songs about overcoming challenges and loving one another; speeches by event organizers and community members; a candlelight vigil; and a moment of silence to remember Heather and her sacrifice.
Jennifer Kagiwada shared how she and other organizers felt they had to do something. She began the event with a quote from Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro: “I don’t want her death to be a focus for more hatred. I want her death to be a rallying cry for justice and equality and fairness and compassion.”
“Heather wasn’t someone who just sat at home and just posted about inequality and injustice online,” said Hilo resident and co-event organizer Shannon Matson. “She was somebody who got out into the community and that’s how she lost her life. She was standing up for something she believed in.”
“I am pro-peace because there is already so much hate in the world and I want to stand up and say ‘no more,'” Matson added.
“We can’t let that hate disrupt the way we approach things, said Hilo Indivisible member Jerry Marsischky. “We really need to reach out to one another. Love is the way we solve it.”