LYNN — Peabody’s Karyn King Fargo stood outside of Lynn City Hall, carrying a sign bearing words shared on Heather Heyer’s last Facebook Post.
“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”
The message was meant to honor Heyer, who was killed during protests last week in Charlottesville, Va.
King Fargo was one of more than six dozen people peacefully expressing their outrage on Saturday. Protesters, who hailed from Lynn and statewide, said they gathered to say no to racism and fascism.
“There’s just so many issues going on right now,” King Fargo said. “Unfortunately there are many things going on that we should feel outraged about.”
Organized by Lynn United for Change, the New Lynn Coalition, and the Essex County Community Organization (ECCO), they called on others to join the movement for social justice and demanded that community leaders to break their silence and speak out.
The rally started off with ECCO’s representative singing “This little light of mine,” as community members of all ages and races joined in harmony.
The stage was shared by union representatives, a supporter from Western Massachusetts, North Shore Community College staff, and many more, taking a stance on controversial issues spreading throughout the country.
They denounced hate and represented the resistance in Lynn against white supremacy and neo-Nazis. Protesters also spoke out against President Donald Trump.
“Recently, President Trump said that the thugs who marched under swastikas and Klan signs in Charlottesville and murdered a peaceful counter-protester, included ‘many fine people,’” said Sylvia Scharf of Westfield, reading from a press release at the event.
The leaders of the gathering jointly asked for an explanation from Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy.
“Military, union leaders, CEOs, and elected officials including Republican Senators have all denounced Trump’s support for violent racists. Mayor Kennedy endorsed Trump for President and attended his inauguration in Washington. What does she have to say?” said the joint statement. “Mayor Kennedy, we demand that you tell us: which side are you on? Will you denounce Trump?”
Kennedy said she was raised to respect public officials.
“That doesn’t mean I agree with or endorse them, it just means I was brought up to respect them,” she told The Item after the rally. “The president’s response to the events of last weekend has been justifiably criticized for not being strong enough in condemning the actions of those who spewed bigotry and hatred. I concur with that assessment.”
She declined to be answer questions about the demonstration or her support for the president.
In a statement she said the events in Charlottesville are cause for concern and reflection.
“We are saddened at the senseless death of Heather Heyer in Virginia and alarmed at the indefensible actions of those whose vision of our country is in direct conflict with the most basic of American values: that we are all created equal and we all enjoy the same unalienable rights,” Kennedy wrote. “It is my fervent hope that Americans can collectively remain committed to the concept of the U.S., and that we redouble our efforts to advocate for love over hate, acceptance over intolerance, and inclusion over segregation. In collaboration and solidarity with all residents of the city, I will continue to do everything in my power to promote an atmosphere that is welcoming, accepting and loving to all who live, work and visit here.”
Katharine Smith-Vaughan of Lynn didn’t just join in the rally, but brought the whole family, including partner Thomas Smith-Vaughan and their 5-month-old son Thomas.
The newborn held a sign with the help of his father that read “I can’t even stand yet and I’m standing up to racism. What’s your excuse, Mr. Trump?”
Smith-Vaughan came to the rally based on what she learned growing up from her parents, which was to always stand up for injustice when anyone in her community is discriminated against.
She said racism trickles down all the way to economics, which has affected Lynn directly, she said.
“It all begins with economics, I see that in Lynn,” she said. “As we’re thinking about developing, I think people in our community don’t have the resources they are supposed to have.”
The question of discrimination and development seemed tied together for some activists, like Ella Thomas from Lynn’s United for Change.
“There’s been a lot a talk about new buildings going up and development. But what kind of development will it be?” said Thomas, whose lived in Lynn for more than 40 years. “There is a development plan by the college that has 348 luxury apartments with nothing at all for working class people for Lynn.”
She asked the crowd if all the new development, including the gated community planned for the Lynnway, will only benefit the rich and become the development that creates more segregation.
Following the rally, more than 20 people left to bring their voices to the rallies in Roxbury and Boston Common.
Isaac Simon Hodes, volunteer for Lynn United for Change, called through the megaphone for members of the community to represent Lynn at the events just a few miles away.
“We will be safe, we will be powerful, we will be together,” he said.
Thomas Grillo contributed to this report.