LITTLE FALLS, NJ - A vigil was held last Friday evening where local residents came together to stand against racism, bigotry, and anti-semitism in light of recent events in the nation and other parts of the world.
The event, held at the Little Falls Civil Center, was organized by Township Council members. Approximately 70 attendees gathered to solemnly remember recent victims of terrorism. They also came to denounce hatred and pray for peace.
The vigil comes in the aftermath of the violence that took place in Chartottesville, Va. on Aug. 12, where a 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 people were injured when a speeding car slammed into a crowd of counter protesters who clashed with a "Unite the Right" rally of so-called white nationalists, and other right-wing groups.
Those who gathered also paid tribute to victims of the recent terrorist act in Barcelona, Spain, where a van plowed into crowds at La Rambla, killing 13 people, including one American.
Councilwoman Maria Martini Cordonnier read a reflection she wrote entitled, "Hate Does Not Live Here," during the vigil.
According to Mayor James Damiano, many residents have expressed concern over the recent events. Several residents spoke during the open public comment of a recent council workshop meeting in order to voice their concerns and prompt the town to take action in some way. They implored Damiano and council members to take a stand in response to white nationalists's rhetoric of hatred and ill will towards Jews, minorities and other ethnicities.
Also at that council workshop meeting, local resident Arnold Korotkin read the poem, "First They Came...," written by German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller, regarding the Nazi's rise to power and the silence of fellow intellectuals when they were witness to groups being targeted one after the other.
"The real issue is over this hate fuel that has been raised, and that's really the concern that has been expressed," Damiano said during an interview with Cablevision's News 12. "This is a nation that has been founded on principles, where freedoms of religion, and your race, creed or color should not matter."