Vigil For Victims Of Hate And Violence


By Amanda Wade

People gathered at the Civil Rights Memorial Center for the 16th annual vigil to honor victims of hate crimes and violence, and to speak out for those who face bullying everyday. Many at the event say they speak out against violence because of their own experiences.

More than 100 people gathered to take a stand against hate and violence. The event included singing, poetry reading, and a free screening of a documentary on the death of Billy Jack Gaither, a gay man murdered in 1999, and the focus of the vigil, "Billy Jack Gaither, as you know, was killed in Sylacauga, Alabama. A brutal hate crime based on homophobia. And we honor him and his life, and we do that so that we can remember and not repeat our mistakes," says Lecia Brooks, Director of the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery. 
Attendees say they come to the vigil because of their own personal experiences with hate crimes, violence, and bullying.
Darcy Corbitt, a student at Auburn University, says, "The comment that really stood out to me and that was the most biting was 'what ever that thing is, it's ugly.' Someone said that about me. That I was ugly, and that I was a thing." 
Another vigil attendee, Elizabeth Bouffanie, says, "I personally have not been subjected to hate crimes, but I do have many friends in the LGBT community who have been and hearing their stories and what has happened to them in their youth is a huge part of why we're here."
The vigil is normally held at the steps of the Capital, but organizers say they changed it this year because of construction.