Vigils held in Philly area to denounce violence at Virginia white nationalist rally [photos]

Demonstrations and candlelight vigils cropped up across the Philadelphia region Sunday to denounce the deadly violence that broke out at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia the day before.

From Allentown, Pennsylvania to Collingswood, New Jersey, local protesters took to the streets to condemn the bloodshed. 

“It’s anti-American,” said Luke Mueller who attended a candlelight vigil in Philadelphia, which drew hundreds of people. “America is a whole bunch of different people. America is about diversity.”

One woman died and dozens were injured when a car plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville on Saturday. Later, a state police helicopter heading toward the violence crashed, leaving two troopers dead.

Mark Tinkleman, of the group Refuse Fascism, said he was in Charlottesville on Saturday marching against the white nationalist gathering and witnessed the deadly car crash.

“Two cars came crashing down a street, pushed by a third car. We didn’t know what was happening. I’ve been doing this stuff for 15 years and I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Tinkleman. “Every person who was there yesterday was a hero.”

Attendees at the Philadelphia vigil at Thomas Paine Plaza near City Hall claimed two objectives: to support the victims of the violence in Charlottesville and to emphatically oppose the beliefs of the white nationalists marching there.

“I think it’s really important for white people who don’t go for alt-right white supremacy to put their bodies where it matters,” said Marisa Guerin, of West Philadelphia.

Other speakers, citing recent police shootings of young black men, spoke out against a system of institutional racism they said still persists in America and what appears to be the renewed fervor of pro-white hate groups. 

In the Philadelphia suburbs, hundreds of people attended a vigil at Linwood Park in Ardmore, Montgomery County. 

Ardmore resident Bernard Hall, who described himself as a father and a teacher, said he and his wife came to the vigil to find a place to heal.

“The things I saw yesterday were really hard to explain to my boys – they’re eight and they’re six – and I’m sad that I had to explain what was going on yesterday,” he said.

Havertown resident Mike Meyers brought his two young children to the vigil.

“It’s important at times like this we don’t ignore it and don’t act like it’s not happening and wait for somebody else to stand up against it,” he said. “It’s tragic what happened down there and it’s not the world that I want to live in.”

Emily Cohen contributed reporting.

Note: This story has been updated to clarify crowd size at the Ardmore vigil.

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