Peaceful candlelight vigil follows memorial on Charlottesville campus

Thousands of people from the University of Virginia and the surrounding community of Charlottesville took part in a candlelit vigil on the UVA campus on Wednesday to denounce the white supremacist rallies which took place in Charlottesville last week. Photo by Sanjay Suchak/University of Virginia

Aug. 17 (UPI) — More than 1,000 people gathered for a candlelight vigil at the University of Virginia Wednesday night, after the memorial service for a woman who died around the Charlottesville campus during demonstrations last weekend.

Wednesday’s procession followed the same route through campus as last Saturday’s demonstration, named “Unite the Right.” That march ended in conflict between marching white nationalists and counter-demonstrators.

Heather Heyer, 32, died when she was struck by a car as it drove into a group of counter-demonstrators.

Participants in Wednesday night’s peaceful march carried candles and glow sticks, and formed a group about a quarter-mile long — which ended at the campus statue of Robert E. Lee. They sang songs as they walked, including “We Shall Overcome,” “Lean on Me” and “This Little Light on Mine.”

Student Rebecca Stoistmann called the vigil’s organization a “community effort” involving several university departments.

The crowd gradually dispersed following a recitation of Maya Angelou‘s poem, “I Will Rise.” A moment of silence was also held for Heyer and two Virginia State Police officers who died in a helicopter crash related to the protests Saturday.

The demonstration was deliberately low-key in nature, and for safety reasons it was advertised only by word of mouth, phone calls and emails within the college community, organizers said.

Promotion for the event was kept off social media so that potentially disruptive groups were unaware of it.


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