Resist Hate rally to be held Friday

Students and faculty finish the march around campus on the Jesse W. Rodgers Promenade for the rally against the immigration executive order on Feb. 1. Photo by Bridget Reilly

In response to the events of Charlottesville, Virginia on Aug. 12, English junior Kalli Root has planned a Resist Hate rally for Friday, Sept. 1 at 5:30 p.m. in Sunwatcher Plaza. She wanted this to be a peaceful rally against hatred and bigotry.

“I just thought it was ridiculous, seeing the uprise of hate organizations like the KKK and neo-Nazis [since Charlottesville],” Root said. “We have a neo-Nazi group in Wichita Falls. We want to respond to that and make it known that hate is not acceptable on this campus.”

The three students joined forces for the rally with Indivisible Wichita Falls, “a grassroots organization that is standing indivisible with Americans all across the country against the Trump agenda,” according to its website. Root said the organization’s president, Leeann Andrews, was planning a rally of her own already, so they decided to do one together.

While some may view this as a controversial event to put on at the beginning of the year, Root said she wanted to show the new freshman what MSU is really about.

“This is a good introduction into MSU’s values,” Root said. “It will help show the new people that they can be involved with something that makes an impact on a larger scale.”

Root said she will have sign-making materials at Sunwatcher Plaza for students and community members to make their own signs before the group marches around the perimeter of campus. Rally attendees will end at the plaza, where there will be three guest speakers to close out the event: Nathan Jun, associate professor of philosophy, Mel Martinez, Metropolitan Community Church pastor, and Ally Green, president of the Black Student Union.

“We’re hoping to get a good turnout from both the community and MSU students,” Root said. “This event is open to anyone who wants to come spread our message.”

There are seven official neo-Nazi groups in Texas, with one located in Wichita Falls, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center: The Daily Stormer. To ensure students’ and community members’ safety, campus police will be monitoring the rally.

“I hope there’s not backlash, but it’s definitely a possibility,” Root said. “We wanted to be prepared either way, so I contacted Chief [Patrick] Coggins and made sure the police will be at the whole event.”

Morgan Sinclair, sociology junior, also hopes for the safety of everyone at the event.

“I’m a little scared of how big it could get. I don’t know if they [neo-Nazi group in Wichita Falls] would have the nerve to show up, but I wouldn’t count on them not showing up,” Sinclair said. “I hope everybody is safe and that it goes well.”

Sinclair helped organize two campus rallies last year, but she said Root took charge of this Resist Hate rally.

“She kicked ass on this one. I’m really just here for support,” Sinclair said. “We need to show we are inclusive and don’t tolerate hate in any way.”

Other students feel that this rally will be beneficial toward spreading the message of tolerance.

“We need to have a positive presence. We don’t tolerate hate,” Christopher Cruz, theater junior, said. “We’re here for the good.”

Root stressed that this rally wasn’t for or against any one political party or politician.

“We don’t feel that this should be a partisan issue. You should stand up against hate, no matter your political party,” Root said. “If hate is in your ideologies, you can expect resistance.”