The sounds of the fountain on Newberry Street trickled quietly in the background as a few people exited their cars and began hanging up the American flag and banners encouraging love and peace.

A day after violence erupted between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Indivisible Aiken group called for a solidarity rally in downtown Aiken. 

The rally is one of several that were held across the country after protesters clashed in Virginia on Saturday, which reports say was prompted by efforts to remove a Confederate statue.

The Virginia protests ultimately lead to the death of a 32-year-old woman, when a car plowed into a crowd of people. Police said more than a dozen others were injured. 

Holding candles and signs, people at the Aiken rally started singing songs including "This Little Light of Mine" on Sunday before they heard from speakers representing a number of local organizations and statewide efforts.

Debra Guthrie, minister at Aiken Unitarian Universalist Church, said the church feels a moral obligation to stand up against bigotry and white supremacy and "to stand in solidarity with our friends and other people of faith" who experienced the violence in Charlottesville in the last few days. 

The words of comfort she offered were: "You are not alone." 

"There's so many people who feel the way that we do, and we just need to be more vocal about it and to stand up and get out there," Guthrie said. "I think that the heart of the nation is a good heart and it's a loving heart, and people who promote hate do not represent us all.

"That's just a small minority but a vocal minority. We need to be just as vocal. We need to say, 'We are here and we resist that kind of hatred and bigotry.' Racism has to end. It just has to. It's a moral imperative." 

Linda Kassel stood with a small sign that read "Hate Has No Place Here: Aiken Stands in Solidarity with Charlottesville" as she and her husband, John, talked about their connections to Virginia. 

"We're upset about what happened. Charlottesville is a very inclusive, diverse welcoming town," Linda Kassel said, "and these were outsiders who took a local issue just to exploit it, and it made us mad; and we're very sad that there was loss of life." 

John Kassel said his wife was born in Virginia and he lived there for more than 30 years before they moved to South Carolina. Their daughter and son-in-law also live in Charlottesville. 

As her eyes watered, her husband said both are products of the 1960s and '70s and were kids when President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated. 

"... and alive during Jim Crow," Linda Kassel added. "It was a very sad time. We hoped we never had to see that again."

She said they also had fathers who fought in World War II against Nazis. 

"Who knew we'd had to fight them on our own soil?" she said. 

Julie Edwards, who runs an Indivisible group in Columbia, came to support after she learned about the rally in Aiken online.

"I think it's important that we all show that Nazis, neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates don't have any place in polite society," Edwards said. "We're here to be unified as a community for all people, and the idea that these sort of ideologies are cropping up across the country is something we have to resist as a community."

Edwards feels "honest history lessons" that tell the horrors of past events in the country and the world will help people not repeat the same mistakes.

Members of the Aiken County Branch of the NAACP were also among those present on Sunday. Dr. Malencia Johnson, of the local NAACP branch, read the official statement from the national organization that was released on Saturday. 

In it, the organization says it acknowledges and appreciates President Donald Trump's "disavowment of the hatred which has resulted in a loss of life today," but it also calls on the president to remove Steve Bannon from his administration.

Karin Sisk, leader of Indivisible Aiken and the organizer of Sunday's rally, said she, too, thinks changes in the administration will help change some of the sentiment in the country.

"Even the most conservative of Republicans and Democrats are able to call this what it is and say, 'Hey, this is not right. We don't do this kind of thing and go out and seek to hurt each other.'"

As of press time Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence and White House aides were reported to have denounced hate groups such as the KKK and neo-Nazis in statements. Trump had garnered criticism the day before for his response to the weekend's events. 

Sisk and others said Sunday was about unity.

"We've come together really to stand in solidarity with the people of Charlottesville, and in order to not let that happen here in Aiken, to let people know that that type of behavior is not welcome," Sisk said.

"Although I'm a major protestor, we don't do that kind of thing. We don't do hateful things. We believe in free speech, but we don't believe in hate; and we don't march with guns, and we don't march with helmets and shields ... and hit people. We don't go out with evil in mind. We go out with kindness and peace and simply to speak our minds."

Eugene White, Aiken County NAACP branch president, encouraged the group to chant: "We are not afraid." 

In an earlier interview with the Aiken Standard, White said events of violence shock everyone and should whether people are NAACP members or not.

"Whenever you use violence to solve social problems, it never works out, and it's a lose-lose situation for everyone," he said. "Whenever there is unity on the other hand, the NAACP wants to be involved and find coalitions with any other group and organization. It's about peace, justice and equity." 

Asked what he felt it would take to combat some of the rhetoric that prevailed over the weekend, White said, "The short name for a lot of that stuff and the rhetoric that is going on is darkness, and the only real solution and weapon that can combat darkness is light.

"So, all we have to do is show our light, and the light really isn't one blazing sun. It's everybody showing their individual light that is inside of us. We know what right and wrong is morally, and so we need to act on it ... We need to make sure we're showing our lights and battle darkness whenever we see it."

Christina Cleveland is the city government reporter at the Aiken Standard.

Christina Cleveland is a reporter with the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since October 2015. A native of Seneca, South Carolina, she holds a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.