Gathering Planned in New Bedford in Response to Charlottesville Violence
This past Saturday's horrific events in Charlottesville, Virginia have prompted a local response, as city officials, faith and community leaders and others from the Greater New Bedford area will gather Tuesday night in unity against hate and violence.
Rev. David Lima, Executive Minister of the Inter-Church Council of Greater New Bedford, knew something needed to be done to bring the community together after the senseless death of Heather Heyer Saturday, after being run over by a car driven by James Alex Fields in an attack that also injured 19 others. Two helicopter police officers were also killed that day, after the clash between white nationalists and those who opposed them.
"This community has had a history of coming together after traumatic events," Rev. Lima said. "With the horrific events of this past weekend, it was felt we should come together as soon as we could."
The gathering has been dubbed "Not In My Community," and will begin at 6 p.m. on the steps of City Hall in New Bedford.
Mayor Jon Mitchell, New Bedford City Councilors, and community, business and faith leaders will be present. Rev. Lima said he also hopes Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro will attend, because he thinks he can offer some especially poignant insight with the death of two police officers in Charlottesville.
"There will be some talking, but most of it is just about bringing people together of great diversity," Rev. Lima said. "It's about saying no to hate, no to violence. We have to figure out another way. We can't just keep up the rhetoric where nobody listens to one another."
Rev. Lima said that rhetoric is what inevitably leads to someone deciding to take matters into their own hands.
"I think what ends up happening too many times is that there are people who think they are right, and others who think they are wrong. But when we start the talk, when we keep the rhetoric going, there's always somebody on the fringe," he said. "Someone like (Fields), someone like others we've seen in the past, that will take it upon themselves to 'take out the opposition.'"
"If we just stop to learn about each other, talk to each other, and just try to know each other, then love can overcome hate," Lima said. "Hate has to be stopped. Reasonable people have to examine what we're doing, how we're doing it, and that only happens when we have dialogue and work together."
Rev. Lima said he has had conversations about safety with Chief Cordeiro, to quell fears that other groups may show up to stand in opposition to what this gathering is trying to accomplish.
"There may be some that are anxious," he said. "That's one of the reasons why some of us just have to stand up, even in the face of those concerns and fears. There's always the possibility of something, but when we stand together, we can overcome any kind of thing that comes against us."
"Because the bottom line is, when people are unified, others are afraid of them."
Rev. Lima will discuss the gathering and Saturday's violence in appearance on "Brian's Beat" Tuesday at 10:25 a.m. on 1420 WBSM.