Rallies in Kzoo promote equality following Virginia violence

A rally formed in downtown Kalamazoo after the events in Virginia on Aug. 12, 2017.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Dozens of people rallied in downtown Kalamazoo Saturday night to promote equality, after white nationalists converged on Charlottesville, Virginia in a scene that turned violent and deadly.

Chants of, “hey hey, ho ho, white supremacy has got to go,” came from the group outside of the Radisson Hotel in Kalamazoo.

“The only way to be an American is to be a White American is just ludicrous, and I think most people don’t agree with that,” Emily Demorest, who organized the rally, said.

Saturday’s rally came together quickly, but an even larger gathering with a similar message is planned for Sunday.

ProKzoo, a social justice group, will host a “Stop the Hate” event in response to the demonstrations in Virginia.

“Whether or not these are issues that happened hundreds or thousands of miles away, this is hurtful to people in our community,” Jen Strebs, the co-founder of ProKzoo, told 24 Hour News 8 Saturday ahead of the rally.

President Donald Trump denounced the violence Saturday, but there was a clear anti-Trump message at the rally in Kalamazoo. Charlottesville’s mayor on Saturday accused the president of inflaming racial prejudices during his campaign.

Strebs said while she shares that view, she welcomed everyone to Sunday’s rally and said she doesn’t want to focus too much on politics.

“It’s about humanity tomorrow it’s about standing for the value of each human life,” Strebs said.

“Many people move here to Kalamazoo because it is an open and welcome environment, and we want people to know that we are united and we are together against people who want to divide us in the name of hate,” Demorest said Saturday night.

Sunday’s rally is scheduled to start at 2:30 at Bronson Park in Kalamazoo. Several local leaders, including State Rep. Jon Hoadley will be in attendance and plan to speak.