‘Rally Against Hate’ draws more than 130 people in Middlebury

MIDDLEBURY — This past Sunday afternoon, Nov. 13, more than 130 Addison County residents gathered at the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society on Duane Court in Middlebury for a “Rally Against Hate.”
A rowdy parade of citizens, ranging in age from babies in strollers to a very determined 87-year-old, then walked from the church to the Middlebury green by way of Court Street. Supportive motorists honked and waved at signs that said, “We Love Immigrants,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “Speak Out Against Racism.”
The marchers then gathered around the gazebo, where anyone who wanted to speak was invited to do so.
Dave Silberman, 40, of Middlebury urged the crowd to stay vigilant, and engage with their elected representatives.
“Our state legislature has the ability to fight back against the expected assault on civil liberties at the national level,” said Silberman, an attorney and pro-bono cannabis legalization advocate. “When you see rights being taken away in Washington, call your state representatives and senators, and demand that they take action in Montpelier.
“For example, when the legislature passed a law last year guaranteeing all Vermonters no-cost access to all approved forms of contraception, many observers thought it was unnecessary, given similar guarantees under Obamacare,” he said. “But now that the incoming Trump Administration has promised to end the federal contraceptive mandate, Act 120 looks like one of the more important pieces of legislation to pass last year. We must look out for vulnerable individuals right here in Vermont, and pass state laws that aggressively preserve and expand the rights and safety of women, immigrants, communities of color, and our LGBTQ neighbors.”
The rally was organized by Kathy Comstock, 48, of Lincoln and was sponsored by Showing Up For Racial Justice and Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society. Along with dozens of other events around the country, the rally was a response to the recent escalations in hate crimes that have occurred since last Tuesday’s election.
Veronica Cambria, 62, of Middlebury reminded those gathered that bigotry, misogyny and xenophobia were not invented by Donald Trump.
“It was just that Donald Trump helped it to find the space it needed to grow and fester more visibly,” Cambria said. “Trump’s election is a call to organize!”
The rally’s organizers expressed hope that Middlebury will continue to come out in the days ahead, by attending other events such as WomenSafe’s Candlelight Vigil for Strength and Courage, which will take place this Friday at the same gazebo, at 6 p.m. Members of Showing Up For Racial Justice also urged those present to join the Facebook group SURJ Middlebury, to stay connected through social media.
Other speakers reminded the crowd that this is a powerful time to come together, to look out for one another and our earth, and to speak up against injustice.

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