Advocates for peace and diversity responded for a second day on Sunday with spontaneous, grass-roots demonstrations denouncing the hatred and brutality that resulted in a death in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.
People of many backgrounds gathered in Boston and across the state expressing horror and anger over the death of a woman who reportedly was peacefully counterprotesting Saturday at a massive white supremacist rally, the most shocking example to date of the growing visibility of advocates for a racially homogenous white America.
About 400 people gathered Sunday afternoon at the Brewer Fountain on Boston Common and marched around the park, chanting slogans including, “Renounce white supremacy. Renounce anti-Semitism”; “No to bigotry. No to hate”; and simply, “Never again,” a vow that no government will be allowed to perpetrate another Holocaust.
Scott Gilbert, 64, of Malden, told the crowd that his late mother had been a Holocaust survivor. When he was 13, he said, he read the diary of Anne Frank, and his mother showed him a photograph of herself with the Dutch teenager who perished at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
“And I said, ‘How did the German people let this happen?’ Fifty years ago, I said this to my mother: ‘Never again.’ And we are standing here right now watching these brownshirts being whipped up,” he said, referring to the militia that helped the Nazi Party rise to power in Germany under Adolf Hitler.
“We cannot allow this to happen again,” shouted Gilbert, who is affiliated with an antifascist group.
Later, as the crowd marched, some carried signs with messages including, “Hate has no home here” and “Down with white supremacy.”
Others carried signs with pointed messages for President Trump, who has been accused of stoking racism through his often divisive rhetoric.
Marchers ranged in age from preschoolers to white-haired seniors, and some were military veterans, or sons and daughters of service members who fought in World War II.
Al Johnson, 71, marched carrying the flag of Veterans for Peace, a national organization for which he serves on the executive committee of the local chapter.
Johnson, a Quincy native, said that as a high school student in the 1960s he had done a term paper on “the radical right,” and he was not surprised by the recent emergence of far-right and racist organizations.
“They were kind of on the periphery, and today they’re out front,” said Johnson, who served in the US Army.
Barbara Anthony, 63, of Cambridge, said her father, Antonio DeFalco, had served as a combat medic in the Air Force under General George S. Patton’s Third Army during the invasion of Normandy. Two of his three brothers, she said, also served in the Second World War.
“They were over there fighting fascism and fighting Nazism, and they loved this country,” she said, beginning to choke up. “My father would think we’ve gone mad.”
Later, about 300 people gathered in silence for a candlelight prayer vigil on the steps of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, across the street from the earlier rally.
The crowd included many who had participated in the march. Signs in the crowd included, “Love is stronger than hate” and “No hate. No fear. No war.”
Upon breaking the lengthy silence, the crowd sang in unison, “When the world is sick, can’t no one be well, but I dreamt we were all beautiful and strong.”
Christian De Jesus, 17, of Chelsea, said he had come to the vigil out of concern about violence and division in the nation.
“We used to be a peaceful country, and we don’t know what led to this,” De Jesus said. “We are all God’s children, and we all deserve love and to be united.”
A vigil was also planned later in the evening at the Ashmont MBTA station in Dorchester.
The Waltham rally is organized by Waltham Concerned Citizens, which member Jennifer Rose said has been working for peace and justice on a variety of social and political issues since 1981.
“We condemn hatred, and white supremacy, and white nationalism, and Nazism, and we stand in solidarity with the people in Charlottesville who were standing up to hate and were victimized by the violence,” Rose said in a phone interview Sunday.
Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at email@example.com.