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Local Vigil held in Wake of Charlottesville Riots

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BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -

After violence broke out Saturday morning in Charlottesville, Virginia's governor,  Terence McAuliffe, declared a state of emergency and directed the national guard to put an end to the “Unite the Right” rally after multiple activists and police officers were injured and/or killed.  

Within 24 hours of the tragic circumstances in Virginia, Southern Tier residents gathered with religious and political leaders, Sunday, organizing a candle-lit vigil at the United Presbyterian Church on Chenango Street, honoring those that were hurt or lost their lives to the recent tragedy.

"We need to come together and say, 'It's time to resist hate,'" said Kimberly Chastain, Pastor of United Presbyterian Church.

"I will stand shoulder to shoulder with each of the people who are against hate," said Ali Azam, Binghamton resident.

According to vigil gatherers, by offering today's hope in a world filled with hatred and anger Binghamton can be a shining beacon of solidarity. Showing the United States that a supportive community, like Broome County, can come together in one voice that shouts, "We won't stand for this!"

Speaking at the vigil, leaders from many different religious faiths (Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhist) stood in front of the gathering of nearly 100 men, women and children to spread the message of acceptance and peace, by candle light. An lesson, that Broome County Executive Jason Garnar said, everyone should be exposed to at every age.

"I don't think you can be too young to learn lessons about what happens," said Jason Garnar on bringing his son Nolan, 10, to the vigil. "While he certainly doesn't quite understand what happened and why...it's important for him to be here."

Through the darkness of the riots and hatred, the candles in Binghamton are continuing to shine brightly for the victims and their families of Saturday's riots, offering love and understanding for those deemed different.