Residents Organize Vigil in Wake of Charlottesville
WETHERSFIELD - Close to 100 Wethersfield residents held a solemn candlelight vigil Sunday night, just a day after clashing protests in Charlottesville Virginia left one woman dead after a reported white supremacist ran his car into a group of counter demonstrators.

       The Rare Reminder did not attend the vigil-held on the Broad Street Green in Old Wethersfield-but caught up with some of the attendees and speakers, including Mayor Paul Montinieri, who have a statement at the event.

       “I think people were looking for somewhere to take their emotions,” Montinieri said over the phone Wednesday night. “I was grateful of the fact that our community could come out and denounce what I think is a very dangerous representation of bigotry and racism. Wethersfield is, in my mind, a community of very high moral fiber, as evidenced by their passion to do something.”

       Town resident Jennifer Regan-Lefebvre was the vigil’s primary organizer, mobilizing supporters via social media during the hours following the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville-a gathering of various white nationalist groups opposing the removal of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's statue from Emancipation Park.

       White nationalists and counter protesting “anti-fascist” activists clashed throughout the day, prompting authorities to declare a state of emergency and order both sides to evacuate.

       The fatality occurred sometime after Emancipation Park was cleared by law enforcement-white nationalist James A. Fields allegedly drove his car into a group of counter-protestors, killing 32-year old Heather Heyer, according to reports in various news outlets across the country.

       “People are troubled by what’s happening,” Montinieri said. “What troubles me is, we seem to be a country very, very divided.”

       Board of Education Chair Bobbie Hughes Granato, who said that she did not go to the vent planning to speak, but felt compelled to upon hearing others, approached it from the perspective of an educator-she taught in the Wethersfield school district for over 40 years.

       “Our children shouldn’t be hearing this-they don’t understand hatred,” she said over the phone Wednesday. “They look for us to be role models, then they turn on the TV, and hear this.”

       Nevertheless, Granato said that she felt empowered by the vigil-what she described as “one of those small town moments”-and says that she intends to discuss with the Board and administrators how best to address the events in Charlottesville in a classroom setting.

       “I would talk about it,” she said. “They’re hearing about it at home-nothing is unavailable to them.”