Santa Clarita locals of all backgrounds and beliefs gathered Wednesday evening to offer support for those affected by the white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend.
Hosted by Bloom Lutheran Church in Valencia, about 40 vigil attendees on the corner of Magic Mountain Parkway and McBean Parkway prayed for peace and an end to racism and violence while cars drove by and honked in support.
For Shara Darden, the racial injustice her parents and grandparents faced for years weighed on her, she said. Though she and her relatives had fought for equality for decades, Darden said America had gone back to “ground zero.”
“It’s heart-wrenching for me,” Darden said through tears.
As a mother, she worries what to tell her children and how to prepare them for the uncertain future.
She attended the event to find solidarity and surround herself with others in the same pursuit of justice.
“It was for me to come out in the community I live in, to feel a sense of support outside of my family and the walls I live in,” Darden said.
What happened in Charlottesville is not representative of all communities, she said, but knows there is still injustice happening in Santa Clarita on some scale.
“If there is anything I can do to be an ally and stand up to say, ‘I’m here to support other people,’ then I want to do that because other people have done that for me and my children,” she said.
Though there seems to be a sense of hate and hurt across the nation, community member Sue Sylwester-Rice said she believes love wins in the end.
“I am hoping to put more love out there,” Sylwester-Rice said. “I believe counter-protesting comes from a good place.”
Santa Clarita resident Noelle De Vita said in the aftermath of the incidents in Charlottesville, she felt angry.
“It is time for this to stop,” De Vita said. “It’s time to call evil what it is.”
When there is violence of any kind, it is critical that allies speak up on victims’ behalf, said Domestic Violence Center Director Linda Davies.
“Any time there is any violence anywhere, we need to be outraged by that violence,” Davies said. “We need to be caring about the people in our community.”
Pastor Ryan Chaddick led the event, doing a call and response prayer about pursuing love and denouncing racism.
“We believe in making as many sacred spaces as possible for people to experience love and be transformed by love,” Chaddick said. “It’s a greater complexity, a greater unity, a greater diversity.”