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February 24, 2024

Quad Cities anti-hate rally spreads inclusive message

Augustana students at the rally on Sunday. Many staff, students and alumni came to listen. Photo by Kevin Donovan

Residents from both sides of the Mississippi gathered to take a physical stand against discrimination in the Quad Cities on Sunday, Aug, 27 at 4 p.m. at Schwiebert Riverfront Park in Rock Island.
Students and faculty with signs and Augustana spirit wear traveled to the rally in a bus that was organized by Campus Ministries and the Office of Multicultural Student Life, campus groups that partnered with One Human Family QCA, an association of religious and community organizations that came together to emphasize the importance of a welcoming Quad Cities.
Pastor Kristin Glass Perez, co-chaplain at Augustana, says that the essence of community and supporting people of all different backgrounds is inherently found in the college’s foundations. For Glass Perez, the school’s presence at the event was essential.
“Augustana students are people who live in the Quad Cities, as well. Many students are from the Quad Cities, but we have students from all over the world. Not everybody thinks the same or has the same experiences, but Augustana is a place where, in our mission, it says we want to help people grow in mind, body and spirit,” Glass Perez said, “We also want to serve our community, and for the greater Quad Cities to see that Augustana and in particular Augustana students want to support everyone in the community is a really important step.”
According to Pastor Richard Priggie, co-chaplain at Augustana, the demonstration was organized in response to flyers from The National Alliance, a white supremacist group based in the Quad Cities that recently distributed discriminatory bulletins at St. Ambrose University and North Park Mall.
“There have been flyers distributed on the Iowa side of the river – for now – but it could happen at Augustana. That are really hateful, horrible, white supremacist literature. The most recent one was this inscription ‘Why do they hate us?’ and there’s this family that is as white as can be, and the narrative was that they’re the ones under siege – the victims of discrimination: white people,” Priggie said.
In light of recent events in Charlottesville, Priggie argues that now is the most critical time to act in advocacy of an inclusive environment, both in the Quad Cities and at Augustana.
“The pressure’s on us to stand up and say that it’s completely unrepresentative, unwelcome in the Quad Cities and certainly unwelcome at Augustana,” Priggie said.
Approximately 38 students signed up for the bus ride at the time of its departure. However, many more alumni, faculty members, and current students were present at the event than those on the bus. Among those students was David Langum, a first-year student with a strong commitment to human rights.
“The atmosphere, I think, is unified. It shows solidarity for the people affected by these terrible events. I think it shows that people are united against hate and that we, together, can make this world and country a better place,” Langum said.
In the past, Langum has been involved with other activism events and hopes to be a part of other rallies in the future.
“I’ve been to a couple of rallies before – I get these pins from my parents. My mother, especially, is why I’m aware of all this and why I want to help. She’s very committed to human rights, too. Ever since she was a little kid, she was barely a toddler when the Civil Rights marches happened, and growing up in the 60s and 70s, she’s definitely from a time of political activism, which is how I get it,” Langum said.
Each of the four cities was represented at the rally with groups like the QC Islamic Center, Temple Emanuel, Quad Cities NAACP, the League of United Latin-American Citizens (LULAC), the Davenport City Council, and others that spoke and performed on behalf of the people.
One of the speakers was Imam Saad Baig of the QC Islamic Center, a graduate of Augustana College who communicated a message of encouragement toward those in education.

“I see many people, but I want to single out two groups. I see a great number of faculty from schools. The second group is young children and students. I think these groups have a great responsibilities, and we as citizens of the Quad Cities need to support them and encourage our leadership – professors and teachers – that they will teach what is right,” Baig said.

At the end of the rally, the audience was left to reflect on the stories shared and reminded of the significance of being there for your neighbors: both on campus and off.
“For all of the people who come from Augustana, this is our home. It does make a difference to see your neighbors supporting one another,” Glass Perez said, “My husband just died in August. He’s an Augustana alum from 1997; his name is Javier Perez. He is a first-generation Mexican-American, and he experienced life differently than I do as someone who is European-American. This is really important to us as a family. Where we live – where our family is – to know that people support all different types of people. And you don’t have to be like your neighbor in order to love and serve your neighbor.”

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Quad Cities anti-hate rally spreads inclusive message