'Enough is enough': Hundreds turned up to tune out neo-Nazi hate-mongering
PITTSFIELD — Love trumped hate decisively on Saturday afternoon, as more than 500 area residents joined together for an afternoon of singing, chanting and goodwill on Park Square at a rally against racism and hatred.
The rally was organized as an answer to a host of neo-Nazi rallies scheduled for major cities across the country, including Boston. There were no such rallies scheduled for the Berkshires.
"We wanted to stand up and speak out against racism," said Drew Herzig, one of the organizers of the event. "We're committed to non-violence, and that's why we didn't go to Boston."
Herzig is the head of Indivisible Pittsfield, a local grassroots progressive organization. He added that the Berkshire County chapter of the NAACP, as well as the Four Freedoms Coalition also helped organize the event.
Pittsfield Police were also on hand to make sure the event went smoothly. Herzig praised Chief Michael Wynn and his officers for their work.
"We're delighted they are here," he said. "We've been in touch with them for the past few days. They wanted to make sure things went well and we agree completely."
Dennis L. Powell, president of the Berkshire County NAACP, was the principal speaker on Saturday. He lauded the audience for their participation and warned them not to "stay silent" in the face of racial injustice.
State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier also spoke, telling the assembly that "we are sending a message that we will stand against hate."
Mayor Linda Tyer welcomed the crowd, telling them "we will not step back in the face of hatred."
The day was festive, as the crowd sang 60s protest songs, including "This Land is Your Land," by Woody Guthrie and "This Little Light of Mine," a 1920s spiritual written by Christian composer Harry Dixon Loes that became a staple of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
At the beginning of the rally, a man handed a Pittsfield police officer a large basket of watermelon slices and bottled water. The watermelon went fairly quickly; the water soon after. It was a hot, but not overly humid, day.
People stood in the sidewalk surrounding Park square. Many held signs decrying racism and hatred, such as "Reject Violence," and "United We Stand Against Racism," and "Hate Is Not The Answer."
"This country was built by all races," said Rob McClusky of Pittsfield. "Not just one."
"I thought it was important to be here because this is representative of what's happening around the country," said another resident, Amanda Lichte.
"At what point do we say, 'Enough is enough?'" mused Graham Dean of Great Barrington. "Frankly, if there are any elected officials who don't speak out against this, they are complicit. They are fascists."
There were folks outside Berkshire County, as well.
"I think people who sit back and don't participate in what's going on in the country are just wrong," said George David of Copake, N.Y. "We have to be on one side or the other. There's no middle ground, really."
Reach staff writer Derek Gentile at 413-770-76977.
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