A national organization has plans to be in Waterbury on Saturday for a rally, but some say that the organization is nothing more than a hate group.
ACT for America has plans to hold a March Against Sharia's Law on Saturday in Waterbury. Act for America is a group, which the southern poverty law center calls the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in the country.
Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary said he thinks this group decided to come to Waterbury because they have such a large and active Muslim community in the city.
"Their claim to fame is Sharia law, but it's really not. They don't want Muslims here and they see our large population and it's deeply painful," said Fahd Syed of Waterbury.
Syed said members of Waterbury's Untied Muslim Mosque and their supporters will be in downtown Waterbury on Saturday to hold their own rally to counter the one being organized by Act for America.
"You're going to see many people that are rising up to end this discrimination and hatred, and standing with the Muslim community," Syed said.
ACT for America is holding nationwide protests on Saturday and calling them "March Against Shari." On their website, organizers describe it as a rally for human rights.
A statement on their website says, "We, at ACT for America, are committed to protecting women and children from Sharia Law and its impact on Muslim women and children including honor killing and Female Genital Mutilation. We must ensure that every woman and child enjoy the protection afforded by the U.S. Constitution."
"Their message is a bunch of malarkey, to be frank. It's nothing what they're trying to do. All they're trying to do is divide American," Syed said.
While the ACT for America rally will be in front of city hall, mosque members will be down the road near the library. There will also be a road race going on, which is scheduled to start and finish in downtown Waterbury.
Waterbury police will be bringing in extra officers for all of the events. The mayor says the increased police presence, especially on a weekend, will end up costing the city around $20,000.
"Police have met with the organizers of each group and have gone over some ground rules," said Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary. "We're hoping for peaceful protests, rallies, and we've encouraged open lines of communication with all the groups involved, I'm very hopeful it will go off smoothly."
The mayor said both sides have said they will be respectful. Both rallies start at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
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