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Thousands Gather in Charlottesville for Peaceful Candlelight Vigil Against Hate

Charlottesville
Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Hundreds of people march peacefully with lit candles across the University of Virginia campus on Aug. 16, 2017, in Charlottesville, VA, in the wake of violence in the city and against torch-lit white nationalist parade the same campus last Friday night. 

Five days after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned violent and resulted in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, thousands of citizens gathered on the University of Virginia campus for a peaceful candelight vigil Wednesday night (Aug. 16) against hate and violence. The marchers moved along the same route that torch-carrying neo-Nazis and KKK sympathizers walked last Friday (Aug. 11), according to CBS News

In an effort to avoid being disrupted, the organizers, which included students and faculty, spread word about Wednesday night's gathering through text, phone calls and private Facebook messages and no members of the white nationalist group behind last weekend's violence were in evidence during the event. "What happened on Friday night was a tragedy and we're here to take back the lawn for this student generation, all the previous, all the future generations of students who walked the Lawn," march attendee Jerry Connor told a CBS affiliate. "The Lawn stands for liberty, equality, justice and freedom."

Participants sang songs of comfort, determination and unity including "We Shall Overcome," "This Little Light of Mine," "The Star Spangled Banner" and the UVA anthem "The Good Old Song," while a speaker read the Maya Angelou poem "Still I Rise." The march took place just hours after a memorial for paralegal Heyer, who was killed on Saturday when a purported 20-year-old Nazi sympathizer allegedly plowed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters at high speed, injuring 19 others.