Calm prevails at anti-fascism rally in Pittsfield

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PITTSFIELD — Some were nervous about how a national anti-fascist movement might manifest itself in Pittsfield on Saturday, but chaos did not consume city streets.

Shortly after 1 p.m., about two dozen people had gathered at Park Square, holding signs and waving at passing motorists. Indivisible Pittsfield organized the small rally in solidarity with a national push against what organizers say is a shift toward political fascism.

Drew Herzig, an organizer with Indivisible Pittsfield and chair of the city's Human Rights Commission, said that, leading into the weekend, there was "a massive misinformation campaign" that missed the point of the movement's motives, which, he said, are to defend the Constitution.

Violence and destruction, he said, are "not what we're here for."

"I feel we're here to defend our Constitution," he said, citing the Robert Mueller investigation and surrounding events in the national news. "Things seem to be accelerating. We have to publicly stand against it to remind the public and the world that this is not how we operate."

He said there were two men who approached organizers upon their arrival, emerging from the dozens of American flags decorating Park Square in honor of Veterans Day, to slam them for disrespecting veterans.

"We respect the vets just as much as anyone else does," Herzig said. "They defended our Constitution, and that's what we feel we're doing."

Supportive honks showered those standing behind the Indivisible Pittsfield banner, vastly outnumbering the shouts and crude gestures that came from a passing motorist or two.

"We will not normalize a demoralizer," one of the signs read.

"Impeach," read another, and "Make bigotry wrong again."

Views of those holding signs differed from one another, but one thing united them: concern.

"I worry for my grandchildren," said Elliot Small, who lives part time in Monterey.

He said Donald Trump and his administration practice "total irrationality and a lack of self-control" that could pose a danger to future generations. It harks back to Mussolini's Italy, he said.

Organizers said Trump is benefiting financially from his presidency, he's attacking media organizations and taking aim at independent prosecutors while legislators work to make it harder to sue for civil rights violations — all examples, they said, of a government drifting toward fascism.

The word "fascism," said sign-holder Stephen Rifkin, likely served to diminish turnout at the rally.

"I think it has to do with the word fascism," he said of the low-turnout numbers. "People find it repellent."

Reach Amanda Drane at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter or at 413-496-6296.


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