Despite below freezing temperatures, about 70 people gathered on County Road outside the Barrington Town Hall early Saturday evening to “stand in solidarity with those who have been the recipients of hate.” On the Facebook event page, organizers wrote, “Let us embrace our neighbors with loving kindness and demonstrate our unity. Each of us is individually deserving of dignity, and each of us contributes to our shared community.”
“A member of the community [Mel Bynum] reached out and wanted to organize something in support of a recent incident of one of our Barrington neighbors receiving hateful, anonymous mail,” said Barrington Town Councilmember Jacob Brier, who helped organize the event. “We talked about how best to do that during this challenging time and determined a silent, socially distant vigil could be a powerful way to show those in our community who are on the receiving end of such acts that we stand with them. Nobody deserves to be treated as if they do not belong, simply because of who they are. It is important that we show all victims or those who might feel marginalized that we are on their side, that they are respected, and that they are welcome in Barrington.”
Six or seven children, and a couple of adults, used chalk to write words of inspiration on the sidewalk. People stood on the lawn, and along the sidewalk, socially distancing, wearing masks, and holding lights and signs. Most of the half hour vigil was quiet, with only the honking of car horns, declaring the support of the drivers, breaking the silence.
“We’re gathered here today to show the world, Rhode Island, Barrington, our country, that hate will not win, that love will always come before dark,” said Mel Bynum, one of the event organizers, towards the end of the vigil. “We’re here for kindness, and appreciation, and empathy for our neighbors – everyone matters. We ask everyone to take a moment of silence, and please be kind to everyone else.”