Hundreds gathered at borough hall for a rally before a march and vigil, including Mx Rowan, below, who wore a yarmulke with the Hebrew alphabet. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


Answering the racist and anti-Semitic shouts heard last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, about 400 Red Bank-area residents gathered Wednesday night to affirm their belief in love over hate.

“We’re all standing here together united in our humanity,” said Hazim Yassin, of the American Muslim Action Network, at a vigil in  Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz’ Park on Shrewsbury Avenue that followed a one-mile march from borough hall.Led by Mayor Pasquale Menna and local clergy, participants marched and held a vigil with songs, speeches and prayer. See additional photos below.  (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Organized in response to the “Unite the Right” massing of alt-right nationalists, Ku Klux Klan members, neo-Nazis, Confederacy defenders and other white supremacists in Charlottesville, the three-part event was organized by local clergy and attended by Mayor Pasquale Menna and all six members of the town council.

“When we show love for each other, and compassion for each other, the world makes sense,” said Rabbi Marc Kline, of the Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls, speaking at the borough hall event.

Among those in the audience was Red Bank resident Mx Rowan, who wore a yarmulke with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet stitched in. “I’m queer as hell, so it felt fitting” as a rebuke to the anti-Semitic and anti-LBGTQ rhetoric of the far right, they told redbankgreen.

Participants marched along Monmouth Street and Shrewsbury Avenue to the pocket park for a continuation of the vigil.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech” played on a portable stereo at Quick Fix It auto repair next door to the entrance of the park. Garage owner Chuck Cox told redbankgreen it was the most appropriate way he could think of to greet the arriving marchers.

Reverend Virginia Jarocha-Ernst of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Lincroft told the crowd that the gathering was a refutation of all forms of what she called “the current curse of humanity,” including white supremacism, racism, homophobia and patriarchy — “and the violence and indifference they too often inspire.”

“I just want to ask one question: what are you going to do tomorrow” to keep the effort alive, asked Sid Bernstein, co-founder of Citizens for a Diverse and Open Society. Ther group meets tonight at 7 p.m. at the annex to the Pilgrim Baptist Church, 172 Shrewsbury Avenue.

The rally was the second in the borough held in response to Charlottesville. The first was held Saturday night, hours after violence in that city left a counter-protestor dead.