The number who attended was small, but morale was high at the Unite Against Hate Rally held Sunday evening in Neosho's Big Spring Park.

The number who attended was small, but morale was high at the Unite Against Hate Rally held Sunday evening in Neosho's Big Spring Park.
More than a dozen individuals ranging in age from children, whose parents wanted them to learn firsthand that hate is wrong, to adults gathered together in unity.
"It's time for us to speak out," event organizer John Wallis told the group.
Although originally planned as both a candlelight vigil for those who lost their lives in Charlottesville and as an Unite Against Hate Rally, the event became more of a open conversation than a rally.
The event began with a moment of silence to remember Virginia State Troopers Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates and Heather Heyer. Both troopers were in a helicopter, part of law enforcement efforts to maintain public safety during the riots. Heyer was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of protestors, injuring many and killing Heyer.
"We will have a moment of silence for the officers that lost their lives in Charlottesville," Wallis said. "And for Heather Heyer and the officers who lost their lives on Friday."
Wallis referenced Officer Matthew Baxter and Sergeant Sam Howard, both of the Kissimmee, Florida police department. The two officers died after a total of six law enforcement officers in three different U.S. cities were shot on Friday.
Wallis thanked those in attendance for coming and said, "Even though we did not have a large turnout, we are here and we need to do this for our community. Recent events have awakened an awareness in our nation.  The KKK (Ku Klux Klan) is on the rise and when we speak out against them, it shows citizens are sick and tired of racism. It's important in Neosho because we have several groups of minorities."
Several of those in attendance also spoke up and shared their views, presenting a strong stance against racism and hatred.
"It's not a right or left event," Wallis said. "It's a right and wrong group.  We want to plant a seed in the city that plants a seed in the community. It would be nice to create a community action committee because we have to speak out for those who have no voice."
Wallis, a 2018 graduate of Neosho High School and former student body president, leaves for college this week. He will attend Webster University in St. Louis, MO. "I'm leaving for college this week," Wallis said. "I'd like to go out on a positive note."
Last year, Wallis was one of the organizers who attempted to bring a Black Lives Matter rally to Neosho but the event met local opposition and was cancelled after Wallis received threats. "I'm a little nervous," he said before Sunday's rally began. "I'm having a few flashbacks because of what happened last year."
Wallis plans to major in political science and history at Webster. His long range goals are to run for office, including Congress, Senate, and eventually for President in 2036.