Sunday, July 22, 2007

Mothers plan peaceful alternative to rally

Friday, July 20, 2007
By Kathy Jessup 388-8590

A group of more than 100 Kalamazoo-area mothers is asking for city, church and community help in organizing an alternative to an Aug. 4 white supremacists' rally planned here.

Organizers hope to pattern ``Party With a Purpose'' after traditional family reunions and include activities and food that will appeal to people of all ages.

The daylong event will conclude with a candlelight prayer vigil dedicated to ``supporting a truce between the territorial division which is segregating the north, south, east and west sides of town,'' said Stephanie Moore, one of the organizers.

Mothers of Hope is making a public appeal for volunteers, financial support, donated prizes and food to underwrite what it hopes will be a peaceful event for hundreds of people.

Organizers are keeping publicly mum on the location for the alternative rally, saying they fear white-supremacist supporters could show up to incite violence. The white supremacists' rally will be in the main parking lot of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety's headquarters on Crosstown Parkway, according to an Internet posting by Turner.

Moore and Yolanda Neals, Mothers of Hope members, said local churches will serve as pickup and drop-off points for participants. The group has asked Metro Transit to assist in transportation, and church buses also are being enlisted.

``We are feverishly reaching out to the city of Kalamazoo, business and organizations to drum up money and support to pull off this miracle,'' Neals said. ``We hope to host what we are calling the ultimate family reunion in a way that is massively attractive to the African-American community.''

Gwen Hillman and Delores Johnson, founding members of Mothers of Hope, said local church youth groups and choirs are being invited to provide entertainment. They've also asked churches to encourage ``a strong presence of men at this event.''

Kanika Fullerton, also on the planning committee, said young people have helped design the events and are organizing ``a street team to spread the word.''

Some minority residents have criticized the city's low-key approach to the supremacists' event, suggesting local leaders should show more outspoken opposition.

Local law enforcement and government officials said the city will be on alert and are encouraging people who disagree with the anti-minority message to stay away from that rally.

New Jersey radio talk-show host Hal Turner said he's staging the white-supremacist event in Kalamazoo in reaction to recent crimes here he attributes to black youths.

Taylor's opponents say he advocates racial bigotry and violence, pitting whites against all other races.

For information on the alternative rally or to offer assistance, contact Neals at


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