Hundreds of people gathered in Peace Park in Columbia Wednesday evening for a “Peace Walk Against Hate.” Demonstrators walked through downtown Columbia to the Boone County Courthouse while chanting and holding signs about peace and unity.
Stephens College student Audrey Lockwood organized the event after attending a watch party for Jason Kander, the Democratic candidate for the United States senate who lost to Republican Roy Blunt.
“It was also probably a pivotal point for me,” Lockwood said. “I was next to a disabled man and I could just see the fear that he felt as we watched the results of the election come in.”
Lockwood created the Peace Walk Against Hate because she wanted to stand in solidarity with people of all different backgrounds and make sure they felt safe.
Many demonstrators found out about the event through Facebook, but people came for different reasons. Columbia resident Kathryn Hurst participated in the walk because she wanted to be a role model for her two daughters.
“The day [my oldest daughter] woke up after the election the first thing she said was, ‘This could be my last year at the school,’ because someone at school told her as soon as Trump became elected, she would be kicked out of the country for being Muslim,” Hurst said. “I wanted her to see that we still have a voice and that there are people in the world that are good and loving and that will stand for what is good."
Peace Walk Against Hate volunteer Bret Glass helped people safely cross Broadway on their way to the Boone County Courthouse. He hoped the demonstration would show others that they are united against hate.
“I’m marching for peace, love, life and freedom and coming together as one in the Columbia community to say we support, appreciate and value each person in the community,” Glass said.
MU freshman Alex Sapaugh echoed Glass’ point about unity. She joined the walk to be a voice for people who might have felt unsafe even coming to the event.
"I think [the Peace Walk Against Hate] will inspire a lot of people because … I think that it will make people realize like this is a real issue,” Sapaugh said. “It's not something that you can ignore or avoid because at that point you are just choosing the side that is oppressing people."
After the walk, demonstrators sat on the courthouse steps and listened to some speeches and musical performances. The speakers, representing multiple minority groups, focused on change and solidarity.