Those at Rally Show Chester County Speaks Out, Too

Handmade doves were raised into the air on March 8 at a rally sponsored by Kehillah of West Chester. Photo by Jon Marks.

Folks in Chester County wanted to be heard, too.

It was fine if similar rallies had been held at Independence Mall and in Montgomery County. They believed their voices were just as loud and their support just as meaningful.

Shortly before it turned dark on March 8, 200 to 300 people arrived at the steps of the Chester County Courthouse in West Chester, many carrying signs. They wanted to make it clear that they, too — Jews, Christians, Muslims, blacks, whites, Hispanics and more — stood against hate.

And some of them brought their children to pass the message along.

“In the light of what’s going on in the United States, it’s important to show solidarity,” said Elizabeth Munz, a Unitarian who brought her 3-, 6- and 8-year-olds. “There’s a lot of hate crimes and discrimination going on. For us, this is a follow-up to the women’s march. It continues the dialogue in our house.”

“Just to have them understanding some of the challenges our society is facing,” added Langdon Kane, who came with her 7- and 2-year-old daughters. “We do talk about that at home. I want to them to see these ideals are not unique to our family.”

That was a universal theme.

While streams of traffic passed by — some honking their horns in support — a succession of rabbis, ministers and political officials stepped to the podium to deliver that message.

Among those listening intently in the crowd were a man and two women holding up papier-mache “pole puppets” with doves at the top.

“We used to go to Vermont when my kids were little,” explained Linda Glaum, who spent nearly eight hours putting them together. “This organization would put on shows with puppets sometimes two stories high. Apparently, they were used a lot in different European countries for religious marches, but also for political purposes.

“So I made these with doves and puts hearts on them for love.”

The turnout sent a clear message, according to the Kehillah of Chester County, which organized the rally.

“We wanted to bring this to Chester County because we’ve had a lot of unity among synagogues churches and mosques,” said Kehillah chair Dave Gold. “This was important to bring to our locale.”

“It’s important to speak up for everyone,” added Rabbi Jeff Sultar of Congregation B’nai Jacob in Phoenixville. “For each community to stand and express its solidarity.”

That’s especially true in Chester County, where one speaker recalled the time 25 years ago when the Ku Klux Klan held a march nearby.

“We have a very special duty, a special obligation to remember why this county was formed in the first place,” 19th District state Sen. Andrew E. Dinniman said. “This county was established based on religious tolerance and the welcoming of all people.

“Love, tolerance and acceptance of each and every human being should be and must be our very essence, the very soul of what Chester County represents and who we are.”

Moments after it was over, West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta, who also serves as the 156th District state representative, emphasized that point.

“West Chester is a diverse, multifaceted community, and we stand together to make sure all people feel welcome and safe,” she said. “We all feel part of the human family and wanted to do something. Coming together to express our solidarity with all our neighbors is the right thing to do.”

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