The Daily Gamecock

'We are Ukraine': Rally in support of Ukraine urges for action

<p>Attendees hold signs in support of Ukraine during the Stand with Ukraine Rally and March at the South Carolina Statehouse on April 2, 2022. The rally was held as a response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.</p>
Attendees hold signs in support of Ukraine during the Stand with Ukraine Rally and March at the South Carolina Statehouse on April 2, 2022. The rally was held as a response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Protestors in support of Ukraine gathered at the Statehouse on Saturday, April 2, which concluded with a walk through downtown Columbia to the governor's mansion. 

The protest was organized by a high school student, Hayden Laye, who works with numerous organizations that advocate for nonviolence. He said he was inspired to organize this protest to show that South Carolina stands with Ukraine.

“And just as an average South Carolinian, as an average human being, I saw this all this killing, all the war crimes as a threat to democracy,” Laye said. 

Ukraine has historically been in conflict with Russia, but situations escalated when Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. In recent months, more than four million people have fled the country, and an approximate estimate of 1,232 civilian casualties have been recorded.

Mayor Daniel Rickenmann attended the protest and spoke about Columbia’s efforts to aid Ukraine. He said Columbia would be sending 50 bulletproof vests as well as ready-to-eat meals in a show of support.

“I ask all of you to take a moment and turn around and look down Main Street," Rickenmann said. "And picture that if we were in the same situation as many of these cities in the Ukraine are that have to look around and look at the ruins at there, how would we feel and how would we want folks to be there to be supportive of us?”

The rally began with a panel of speakers who voiced their support of Ukraine and shared personal stories. 

Olga Kizer, a South Carolina resident who fled Ukraine in 2015, spoke about the horrors taking place in Ukraine.

“I just wanted to share that this nightmare is not from the TV. It's not like a movie. This is actually some atrocity that is happening right now,” Kaizer said. 

Many speakers emphasized that they were not advocating for a political issue but rather a human one.

“I don't belong to any political parties. I don't share any views. I just want to talk to you as a human to human, as a member of a family to your families,” Kizer said.

USC students were also in attendance to show support to faculty.

"My PI for research is Ukrainian and I just wanted to support her," Amanda Eckstrom, a fourth-year biochemistry and molecular biology student said.

Like Kizer, Alyons Smokvin, a native of Ukraine and naturalized American citizen emphasized the humanity of the issue.

“Right now I’m standing in front of you not only as a naturalized American citizen, but as a proud Ukrainian whose roots and whose heart is with her people back home in the Ukraine,” Smokvin said.

Charleston 4 Ukraine Founder Casey Bramhell urged those to take action if they can. 

“We can and we should donate. We should volunteer. We should do our research. But more importantly, we can also vow to be kind, accepting and understanding,” Bramhell said.  


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