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Big Island Residents Rally for Charlottesville

August 14, 2017, 1:22 PM HST
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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.”

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“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.”

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“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.”

Big Island residents sang songs at the peace vigil in Hilo on Aug. 13, 2017, at the King Kamehameha Statue in Hilo. Photo: Crystal Richard.

Big Island residents lighting candles at the Peace Vigil: Be the Light in Hilo at the King Kamehameha Statue on August 13, 2017. Photo: Crystal Richard.

Jerry and Michelle Marsischky at the peace vigil in Hilo, Aug. 13, 2017. Photo: Crystal Richard.

Shannon Matson, co-organizer of the event and owner of Hot Yoga Hilo, shares her message at the peace vigil in Hilo at the King Kamehameha Statue on Aug. 13, 2017. Photo: Crystal Richard.

Among speeches at the peace vigil were testimonials from community members and visitors on Aug. 13, 2017. Photo: Crystal Richard.

Between 60 to 70 Big Island residents and visitors turned out for a peace candle light vigil at King Kamehameha Statue on Aug. 13, 2017, in response to the death of Heather Heyer. Photo: Crystal Richard.

Residents sharing at the peace vigil on Aug. 13, 2017. Photo: Crystal Richard.

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