LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– A ‘Unity Rally” hosted at the Capitol building Saturday afternoon aimed to bring together people from different groups to share their views and have a conversation.
“There’s LGBTQ groups, Proud Boys, BLM, anyone that’s willing to come out and talk and share their point of view is welcome to be here,” a member of the Unity Coalition who goes by the name Soap said.
“We’re not opposed to having conversations if that’s gonna better our community and our state as a whole, but at the same time we can agree to disagree and have our own opinions and our own views and you know, fight for what we know is right,” said Sarah Skinner, with the non-profit ‘Social Justice for Us’. She and Fred Sims were invited to the event to represent Black Lives Matter.
“We don’t all have to have the same thoughts, but if we, we can find common ground with anybody,” Soap said.
The Unity Coalition was previously known as the ‘Hawaiian Shirt Enthusiasts’ which follows the Boogaloo Movement. Some of the group’s members were arrested and charged in a connection to a terrorist plot to kidnap Governor Whitmer and attack the Capitol. Many of the people at the rally on Saturday were wearing Hawaiian shirts. Soap said, “Those guys weren’t with us. They might have you know followed pages and you know liked some of the stuff we posted, but by no means do they speak for us as a group as a whole.” Another member of the Unity Coalition, Fred, said the movement is often misconstrued.
“When you talk about the Boogaloo Movement, that name has become so skewed. Most of the guys in the boogaloo movement they’re 20-something odd-year-old libertarian guys that believe in freedom, they believe in the constitution. They’re not looking to pick a fight with anybody, they just want peace,” he said.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, however, the idea of violence is widely accepted within the Boogaloo Movement, but Soap said the people at the rally don’t share those views.
“We want to take a thousand steps towards peace before we take a single step towards violence. The last thing we ever want to do is to have to fire any of our weapons we want to sit down and talk to people and rationalize our points so we’re not wanting to kill each other,” he said.
Members of the newly formed coalition added that their goal is to keep the peace by working together with people from other groups and finding common ground.
“You don’t have to leave your group or change your values just work with us and find the common ground and we can work together to do good stuff,” Soap said.