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Charlottesville violence inspires local vigil

By SOMMER BROKAW

STAFF WRITER

PUNTA GORDA — The violence sparked by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday led to a Sunday rally in Punta Gorda to push back against hate.

Nearly 100 people attended the event in Laishley Park.

“I just wanted to show solidarity with people who were affected by this,” said Florida SouthWestern State College student Ross Pemberton, 24, of Punta Gorda. “Since 2016, I’ve seen a disturbing uptick in hate groups, extremism and fascism.”

The Vigil Against Hate began with the signing of a card to send to Charlottesville City Hall to show support for the victims. Candles were lit followed by a moment of silence before attendees marched halfway across the Peace River bridge.

Heather Heyer, 32, a paralegal in Charlottesville and counter-protester, was killed when a car plowed through the crowd. Police say another 19 people were injured by the car driven by James Alex Fields Jr., 20, who was charged with second-degree murder.

Two Virginia state troopers associated with Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s travel detail — L.T. H Cullen and Berke M.M. Bates — died in a helicopter crash after monitoring Saturday’s protests.

“I’ve never been involved in my life, and this just simply pushed me over the edge,” said Sally Campbell, who was in the Cape Coral area when she heard about the vigil. “And this is just one of the terrible results of it

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