The event is part of a bigger movement in response to recent police-involved killings of Black men and women. Several hundred residents attended a rally on the Newton Green June 6, while similar events have taken place in Vernon, Sparta and Byram.
The organizers of Saturday’s rally said they were inspired by the other county demonstrations, particularly in Newton, and wanted to bring the same spirit to their hometown.
“Every little bit we do matters,” Regolizio said. “This rally is about spreading the message to others that, yes, even this little town cares about human rights, equity and justice.”
The Andover rally will feature several speakers, and Mullin and Regolizio are hoping it will also focus on art and the importance of diversity within the community. They are encouraging attendees to share their own paintings, songs, poetry and anything else that shows who they are.
“We wanted to incorporate a little bit of extra elements,” Mullin said. “I think art is important to the both of us, and I think it in all honesty should be important to the community of Andover as well.”
The organizers chose Hillside Park for its large space and recognition of its uncomfortable past. The site, then known as Camp Nordland, was owned by a group promoting Nazi values in the late 1930s and early 1940s, and members of the Ku Klux Klan were among visitors to the camp during the time period.
Mullin and Regolizio hope Saturday’s demonstration can educate the public on the history of Hillside Park while also advancing the notion of equality for all residents.
“I just felt as though it was a perfect storm of things coming together,” Mullin said. “It could be the change and activity in the nation that’s happening right now in accordance with reconciling a really unsightly past at an area in this county and in this town that we all love.”
The two are unsure what to expect in terms of turnout, but said the community has been largely supportive leading up to the event, as has been the case for the other county demonstrations.
“It’s been immensely positive,” Mullin said, “and there’s been an outpouring of support from people who feel like this is an area and this is a town that is ripe for a moment like this.”
Regolizio praised the work of the Andover Township Police Department in coordinating efforts to host the rally safely for all attendees.
“Everything that they are doing has been extremely helpful, and it’s really nice to see that in our community,” she said. “It gives you hope that the more areas like this try to work together to allow voices to be heard, the better type of community you’ll have.”