Members of the Homer community and the Unitarian Universalists of Homer gathered Thursday, Jan. 6, at Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith and Love Park to hold a vigil for democracy in protest of the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol insurrection.
The vigil began with speakers, including Ron Keffer, Jeff Meyers and Alex Koplin. Protesters with signs later filled the sidewalk in front of WKFL Park to share their message with passing motorists and walkers.
According to Hal Shepherd, coordinator of the Unitarian Universalists of Homer, the group saw an “overwhelming” amount of community support during the event as passersby honked their horns and waved in solidarity.
“It’s gone great! We had a really surprising turnout with the cold weather and all of that, but we had probably 30 people at the height of it,” Shepherd said. “… I hope that they (participants) have learned that unfortunately our democracy is in serious danger right now. We have to not sit around on our hands; we have to stand up. It’s really unfortunate that it’s come to this — we have to have a vigil, we have to have people come out here and try to save democracy and defend our democracy. But we need to. We need to get up, get out there and take action.”
Karen Nogle said she participated in the vigil because she wants to be a part of the change and to make a statement.
“Voting is important, and what happened a year ago was horrific,” Nogle said. “I thought I’d seen a lot of things in 68 years, but (the insurrection) was a topper. This is totally crazy and unacceptable. … Why would anyone think there is anything acceptable about going in and attacking our own government? That’s basically what happened.”
In addition to protesting the Jan. 6 insurrection, the group also advocated for the passage of the Freedom to Vote Act, the Protecting Our Democracy Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to federally protect every citizen’s right to vote. Petitions were available for participants to sign during the vigil in support of these bills.
“The main thing we’re focusing on right now is to protect the right to vote,” Shepherd said. “We’ve got to defend our democracy.”