‘We need peace, we need love’: Event opposing white nationalism held Sunday night

Megan O’Connor holds a sign she made for the “Ames Stands Together Opposing White Nationalism” event. “What happened in Charlottesville was the main reason we all got together. I want people to know that they’re not alone and they don’t have to be afraid here,” she said.

Emily Barske

About 350 members of the Ames and Iowa State community came together Sunday evening in downtown Ames to oppose white nationalism. The event was in response to a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia leading to counter protests that left one woman killed and at least 19 injured.

The event, “Ames Stands Together Opposing White Nationalism,” was formed on Facebook and started at Bandshell Park in Ames at 5 p.m. Sunday before a march that went down Main Street.

“We citizens can come together now and raise our voices. Bring a sign, bring a song,” the event description reads. “This is a peaceful, spontaneous event and not endorsed by anyone in particular, but it comes from the heart.”

During the march, protesters chanted or held signs saying things like “black lives matter,” “white silence is white violence” and “love trumps hate.”

Some members of the solidarity movement saw the event on Facebook and decided to come.

“What happened in Charlottesville was the main reason we all got together,” said Megan O’Connor who lives just north of Ames. “I want people to know that they’re not alone and they don’t have to be afraid here.”

She said she came to raise awareness because she doesn’t want the white nationalist mindset, negativity and racism in this community.

Kearra Chester, an Ames resident, sang “we need peace and we need love” as she marched with others on Main Street. She found out about the event from her friend Caroline Harris who happened to be driving home.

“I think it’s mandatory that we have things like this more often so we can open up the minds of other people,” Chester said. “I’m marching for my people, my ancestors that fought for peace and love, and I’m still carrying it on.”

Harris said that after events like these, people often go home, but it’s important to do more.  

“Slavery happened 300 and some years ago and people are still being mistreated. I’m not trying to bring up the past, but I think it’s fair and only right that everybody get treated the same no matter what you look like, you know, cause we’re all under one universe.”

Ames Police that were on patrol were present to help keep the marchers safe, said Sgt. Blake Marshall, who was in attendance. As the march ended, the police blocked off Duff Avenue to allow protesters to cross safely from Main Street back to Bandshell Park.

“A lot of people were troubled (by what happened yesterday)… so seeing a rally like this wasn’t surprising,” Marshall said.

Earlier in the day, Cody West, student government president, joined others in expressing solidarity to condemn the actions in Charlottesville. 

“We need each other more than anything,” Chester said.

The Daily’s reporters Alex Connor and Emily Blobaum contributed reporting.