Republicans not invited to anti-hate rally at State Capitol - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Republicans not invited to anti-hate rally at State Capitol

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Mayors, state representatives and other elected officials attended an anti-hate rally in Hartford on Thursday morning. (WFSB) Mayors, state representatives and other elected officials attended an anti-hate rally in Hartford on Thursday morning. (WFSB)
An anti-hate rally was held at the State Capitol on Thursday morning. (WFSB) An anti-hate rally was held at the State Capitol on Thursday morning. (WFSB)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Following a night of solidarity rallies and vigils across Connecticut, another event took place late Thursday morning in Hartford.

On Thursday's rally in Hartford, which was organized by gubernatorial hopeful and Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, began at 11 a.m. 

"This is a moment of hate led by a man of hate,"  Mayor Dan Drew of Middletown, who is running for governor and organized the event, said. 

Local lawmakers said they can't be silent after events which led to a protester's death in Virginia over the weekend. Officials said Heather Heyer was killed when a driver at a white supremacist rally plowed his car into a group of protesters.

Officials said they stood together on the steps of the state capitol to speak out against white supremacy. About 75 people were at the rally.

"I more hurt, so very hurt that we are at this point again in our country," Farmington resident Eather Reynolds said. 

Their message was clear: There is no more room for hate and the people there blamed President Donald Trump for what happened. They said instead of taking a strong stand against neo-Nazis and white supremacists, Trump is supporting them. 

"The President of the United States, by making a moral equivalency between the Nazis and the Klan members of Charlottesville and the people standing up for justice did us a great disservice and he revealed himself not just as someone who condemns white supremacy, but as someone who is a white supremacist," Drew said. 

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin attended and spoke along with a number of other mayors and state representatives.

"Those who marched in Charlottesville with torches hoods and swastikas stand against everything American stands for," Bronin said. 

However, missing from the rally, Republicans said they were not invited.  

"Certain Democrat politicians are seeking to divide the state on issues that should unite us," GOP Senate President Len Fasano said in a statement to Eyewitness News. 

Fasano added that "individuals running for higher office are more concerned with politics than solutions."

Some Connecticut Republicans feel the president is right.

"The man can't even sneeze without someone making a big deal he sneezed the wrong way,” said Republican State Rep. Sam Belsito, of Tolland.

He sent out a tweet on Wednesday that said, “I stand with the President and the greatness of America.”

However, Belsito made it clear he does not support racism, and has concerns with what is happening in our communities.

He issued an apology on Friday saying “I apologize for my remarks regarding the tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia. We were all offended by the images that we saw and I denounce in the strongest terms the hateful actions that took place. My words did not sufficiently convey what is in my heart and I misspoke.’’

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides also released a statement on the Charlottesville,Virginia Tragedy.

"Rep. Belsito's comments regarding the horrific events in Virginia last week were wrong and unequivocally do not represent my views or those of my caucus. Any acts of hateful violence can ever be tolerated by any group at any time. Words have meaning, and in this highly charged environment, they must be chosen carefully so as not to make a truly awful incident in American history worse. Rep Belsito sought to correct that mistake but I believe he felt felt well short of the mark," Klarides said in a statement on Friday. 

Gov. Dannel Malloy weighed in on the situation in Charlottesville, VA.

"In the wake of the tragedy at Charlottesville, a conversation has been amplified. It is not a new one. In fact, it is centuries old. At certain points in American history it has risen more starkly to the surface. It has injected itself into the forefront of our political debate, our news media, and into private conversations at kitchen tables across our great nation," Malloy said. 

The governor also commented on the actions of the president. 

"The President’s words this week have been nothing short of disgusting, and they need to be repudiated by compassionate people everywhere. That starts with our elected leaders. And unfortunately, right now leaders in the Republican Party are not doing enough to counteract the ignorance and intolerance coming from the highest office in our land," Malloy said. "It’s not enough to say that racism or bigotry are wrong. You have to name the people who are promoting those things. You have to speak out clearly to stop anyone who is enabling or promoting hate. Even if that person is the President. Especially if that person is the President."

Malloy asked for Connecticut Republican leaders to participate this debate. 

"If you are silent you are complacent. And if you are complacent, you are complicit. Any elected official who says they are focusing only on Connecticut issues is abdicating their responsibility as an elected official," Malloy said. "This is a Connecticut issue. And even if it were not, does anyone seriously believe we are incapable of working on our state budget while also standing united against bigotry?"

To read the full statements by Gov. Malloy, click here

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal also came out against Trump and white supremacy on Thursday. 

Hundreds of miles away from Virginia, demonstrators in Groton also continued to feel the impact of Heyer's death.

Dozens of people gathered on Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil.

"We fight for what we believe is right, we preach for what we believe is right," said Rabbi Marc Ekstrand, Temple Emanu-El. "And that's a world that is filled with a little bit more peace and a little bit more love."

Demonstrators said they have to shine a light on the problem and come together to fight back against hatred.

"I don't think 'minority' in this country and at some point, whether it's large or small, you're going to be affected at some point," said Vicki Driscoll of Groton.

Another vigil is planned outside of the Town Hall in Simsbury.

President Donald Trump bitingly decried the rising movement to pull down monuments to Confederate icons.

"You can't change history, but you can learn from it," Trump tweeted. 

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