UM-Dearborn students rally in response to events in Charlottesville

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

By JACK VANASSCHE, Editor-in-Chief

Students gathered at the University of Michigan-Dearborn behind the University Center on Aug. 16 in response to the events in Charlottesville, Va. earlier that week.

Heather Heyer, 32, was killed near the University of Virginia campus when she was struck by an Ohio man while protesting the presence of a white nationalist gathering nearby, authorities said.

Days later, the UM-Dearborn student population gathered for a candlelight vigil for Heyer, along with speakers including student government vice president Sara Alqaragholy, Chancellor Daniel Little, Dearborn mayor Jack O’Reilly, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) and her husband and former U.S. Rep. John Dingell.

Alqaragholy said that she felt moved to act following the attack in Charlottesville, and decided a gathering was the best plan of action.

“The day it was on the news, I was kind of numb,” she said. “At the end of the second day, I was talking with a few friends. We just realized that we had to do something.

“This is not an isolated incident. It will never be an isolated incident,” she said.

The rally was planned by simply making a Facebook event and inviting as many students as possible.

“Because of my role in student government, it became much bigger.”

Nearly 200 people were in attendance on a Wednesday night holding candles and signs opposing President Donald Trump and denouncing white nationalism and fascism.

John Dingell, 91, opened his short speech by greeting those in attendance in a unique way.

“Today, as I greet you, my friends, I greet you as my fellow immigrants,” he said. “Dearborn is sort of a mixing bowl. We try to live together, to have people understand. That’s why this is such a place to live.

“It’s a wonderful experiment.”

U.S. Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, a UM-Dearborn alumnus, also spoke at the event.

“When I think of Dearborn, I think of how our mosques neighbor our churches,” he said. “I think of our schools, where our children grow up without thinking of one another as how we are different based on our religion, race, color and creed, but how we get along and grow up respecting each other.”

Rep. Dingell took her time on the microphone to thank the progress that the younger generation has made, while offering well wishes moving forward.

“May these next generations not see some of the hatred that we have witnessed,” Dingell said. “We will take on hate together, and we will win.”