Mostly White crowd unites to protest against hate and discrimination
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
The rain came down, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of about 200 people at an Aug. 18 rally denouncing hate and racism.
The “United Against Hate” was hosted by Indivisible Volusia in downtown Daytona Beach at the corner of International Speedway Boulevard and Beach Street.
“I think we had a phenomenal turnout with the rain. I think this is important to everyone in the area,” said Neysa Gregory, co-founder of Indivisible Volusia.
During the rally, patriotic songs such as “God Bless America” and “This Land is our Land” filled the air with American flags flying everywhere.
There also were the chants: “Love not hate makes a nation great,” “No Trump! No KKK! No fascists USA.’’
Isaac Murphy was one of a small number of Black people who attended.
“I came down here to see what was going on and how many people are against the hate and racism that is going on in our country today. We shouldn’t have this,” he said.
“I feel that the president of the United States has a lot to do with it and that he is denying the fact that he does. I think he should be impeached. I like the rally. It is very peaceful.”
Police officers stood by and rally commenced peacefully.
‘Voice of reason’
Most of the protesters were Whites who displeased with the racism and hate occurring nationwide.
“I wanted to be a voice of reason in regards to what happened in Charlottesville and the things that the president has said. The president has shown that he supports a lot of those hate groups. I just want to be part of the friendly group and show support. I am glad that Daytona has this,” responded Gina Haggerman.
Daytona State College student Nicholas Gilmore echoed, “I am out here just as my parents. I do support what is going on but at the same time I know there are different opinions and I see how people can get the wrong message. There are some good things going on here at this rally.”
Trump supporter speaks
Aaron Schreffeler is a Trump supporter who stopped by the rally. Some protesters were weary of his presence as he shouted support for the president.
Schreffler told the Daytona Times, “I came here on vacation to go and enjoy the beach, but it rained today. My wife and I were driving by so I decided to stop by and have some fun.”
He added, “I think a lot of these people just come out here to get on the news. I support President Trump, but I don’t like the hate and I don’t support the KKK or the far right.”
‘Love your neighbor’
Local clergy also attended the rally and gave their support.
“Jesus is love! The Bible never said that God has love. It says that God is love. Love means to love everybody. God even says love your neighbor,” expressed Bishop Martin Tooley, associate pastor of New Life Church Ministries in Daytona Beach.
“He doesn’t say love your neighbor if he believes the same thing as you or lives in your country. He says love your neighbor. It is time for the Christian community to live what we preach,” Tooley added.
Indivisible Volusia is an advocacy group that has been protesting and denouncing President Donald Trump’s policies since he took office.
They have held rallies calling for Trump’s impeachment, opposing his immigration policies and travel ban to several Muslim countries as well as protests on health care.
“We rally every Friday night on this corner. Things go pretty smooth. We have had counter protesters, but for the most part it’s been very positive. We will keep at it every week. We will keep people conscious. We want people to know that we stand for our country and for the constitution,” Gregory noted.
The group held this particular rally as a result of the White nationalists’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on Aug. 12 that saw KKK, neo-Nazi and other White supremacists clash with counter protesters and police. Activist Heather Heyer and two state troopers died that day.
“The fascism that has been coming from the White House has started it. Then the events in Charlottesville put it to the forefront. We decided to have this rally to pull together all the people in the Volusia and Flagler county area to show that we are against the hate of any kind,” stated Gregory.
On Aug. 25, Indivisible Volusia was planning to protest – this time calling for the impeachment of Trump.