Rabbi Erica Asch of Temple Beth El in Augusta speaks Sept. 30 during the Hallowell United Rally in Granite City Park in Hallowell. The rally was held in response to a City Council meeting Zoom bombing in which people spouted anti-Semitic, hateful language. A much larger “Love is Louder” rally is now planned Nov. 12 at Mill Park in Augusta in response to that incident and an earlier case of neo-Nazis rallying near the State House. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

AUGUSTA — A new group of community leaders formed to speak out against a recent neo-Nazi march and other local incidents of hate is planning to hold a rally next month that organizers hope will draw some 500 people.

The recently formed Greater Augusta Unity Committee said in a news release that the rally is being held to celebrate love and to send the message that “hate has no place here.” The release said the committee has representatives from civic groups such as the Calumet Club and the Augusta Elks Club, religious groups and political leaders.

The “In Maine Love is Louder” rally is scheduled to be held Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. at Mill Park in Augusta. Special speakers, music, and tables and displays from several organizations are planned, and the event will take place rain or shine, according to the release.

“This rally will be a positive event that will bring together people from the region — from all over Maine — to celebrate that we are stronger together and that ‘Love is Louder,’” said state Rep. Raegan LaRochelle, D-Augusta, who is leading the group. “This will be a happy event that celebrates the good people here. We want to make it clear that this is who we are — a loving, welcoming community.”

In August, a group of 25 to 30 neo-Nazis gathered to demonstrate on the steps of the State House and outside the governor’s house in Augusta. About a week later, LaRochelle and others organized a “Love is Louder” rally at the same spot to counter the neo-Nazi demonstration.

But another local incident of hate arose on Sept. 11, when a Hallowell City Council meeting was tainted by anti-Semitic, homophobic and racist comments spouted by individuals who joined in remotely. That so-called Zoom bombing incident sparked another counter rally, this time at Granite City Park in Hallowell, as some 30 people gathered to denounce hate.


David B. Offer, president of Temple Beth El in Augusta, a member of the committee and retired executive editor of the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel, said the group was formed almost spontaneously as he and LaRochelle were working independently to organize something in response to the hate incidents, and then decided to join forces.

“This rally will be a positive way to make it clear that this is the way people feel in this community,” Offer said.

LaRochelle said some people will march through the community on the way to the rally, arriving by 1 p.m., while others will come directly to the park.

The committee asked people attending to wear something green and to make “In Maine Love is Louder” signs to carry, noting also if they represent an organization or group.

LaRochelle said a list of rally speakers is being developed that will include political and religious leaders, a representative from law enforcement “and others who will share their thoughts about what makes this a community where love is stronger than hate.”

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