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At Conn. state Capitol, a march to ‘end hate,’ while others gather for ‘freedom rally’

Two groups of demonstrators with different worldviews — anti-racism and anti-vaccine mandate activists — converged for separate rallies at the state Capitol in Hartford Saturday afternoon.

A Black Lives Matter rally was held outside the Capitol to respond to recent activity in Connecticut by a neo-Nazi organization.

Power Up CT CEO Keren Prescott helped organize the anti-racism demonstration, called "End Hate Across the State." She said several people passed through trying to disrupt her rally.

“Some did say they were with the Proud Boys. We had people booing, we had people coming through with their megaphones to disrupt,” she said.

Organizers of the Black Lives Matter gathering tried to get their supporters to leave as soon as their event ended because an anti-vaccine mandate “Freedom Rally” was scheduled to begin.

Long Island resident Ann Wilcox was part of a group of anti-vaccine mandate demonstrators who drove through downtown Hartford, honking their horns and displaying American flags and bright yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” Gadsden flags.

“I’m fighting for the policemen, the firefighters and the health care workers that lost their jobs because of that illegal shot they want to put in your arm,” Wilcox said. “It’s pure poison.”

Some members of the anti-vaccine mandate group falsely argued that the coronavirus is a hoax. In Connecticut, almost 11,000 deaths have been associated with COVID-19, according to state health officials.

This story has been updated.

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Matt Dwyer is a producer for Where We Live and a reporter and midday host for Connecticut Public's news department.

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