Advocates and concerned residents gather in Toms River for vigil following Virginia violence
While another round of protests in New Jersey, New York and across the nation were taking form, a peaceful gathering opened up in Toms River Monday night outside the courthouse and Ocean County Library.
Many advocates for peace and concerned residents came with signs and with hope the hatred seen in Virginia over the weekend will not occur here in New Jersey or anywhere else in the future.
One New Jersey woman whose husband is a holocaust survivor came in from New Egypt Monday night to be at the gathering because she felt Ocean County has more hate here.
"Ocean County needs to be represented," said the concerned citizen. "I feel like there could be some racial issues down here more than in other places in New Jersey and the hate has to stop...the racism has to stop."
A Berkeley Township woman said she came in solidarity for the victims of Charlottesville, and also hopes the hate will stop.
"It's a message for everybody that racism and hate is wrong."
A resident of Toms River says she doesn't foresee anything identical to what happened in Charlottesville occurring here but is concerned of hateful incidents taking place in other places in the country due to the hate in society.
"I think that what we saw in Charlottesville, which is actually a liberal north-eastern town in lots of ways, that we can start seeing that happening in communities in New Jersey and in surrounding states as well."
A Toms River man says it was completely disturbing what white supremacists were doing, so he came to the gathering to stand up against the hate.
"I was born and raised Jewish, and when I see people walking around waving Nazi flags, I'm going to get upset."
Emma Mammano of Brick put aside her 10th state senate seat aspirations for the night because she said this is an issue bigger than politics.
"When there's darkness and fear and the worst of human behavior is on display, it's always incumbent upon us to take action, and show the opposite," said Mammano. "(It's) to show that there are more people interested in sharing love and equality and justice."
She said what happened in Virginia is further proof of the hatred in the U.S.
"I think that this is showing us how deep seeded some of the racism is in our country and still even here in New Jersey," said Mammano.
She said the incident shows some of the racism still alive in the country, and it needs to stop.
"I would hope that we can come together and shine a light on that and bring some love and some compassion into the places where there's darkness and fear," said Mammano.
Planned vigils in Piscataway, Summit and Morristown bring to at least 10 the number of New Jersey communities responding to the violence.
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