More than 100 people marched through Downtown Howell Saturday chanting and singing with a message of peace and equality.

The March Against Fear was organized by the grassroots group Citizens For Unity as a reaction to the placement of white supremacist flyers the past two weekends in Howell. The original incident occurred last Saturday as people were attending a fundraiser to benefit girls and women in India.

The group behind the flyers, Patriot Front, is a nationally recognized white supremacy organization that uses the the Nazi-identified phrase “Blood and Soil.” The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups across the country, says Patriot Front promotes a ”…dead-serious advocacy of white-supremacist ideology…intended to appeal to a more militant mindset.” A second group of flyers was discovered this Saturday morning stapled to trees and taped to light posts around the Howell Carnegie District Library, which was the announced gathering spot for the march.

Approximately 120 men, women and children turned out for the march, including Chris Hilbrandt of Brighton, who grew up in Howell. "I'm sick and tired of our community, this beautiful town and Livingston County, being labeled and just the anger and the hate that comes from some people and it doesn't reflect who this towns is. That's why I'm here."

The group proceeded along Grand River to the Four Corners and then to the Historic Howell Theatre, where organizer Colleen Turk spoke to the gathering, drawing a loud cheer as she laid out their intent in making the public display of unity. "We didn't show up here today just for ourselves. We showed up here today for everyone who visits this community and lives in this community. Maybe they look different. Maybe their skin isan't the same color as ours. Maybe their religion isn't the same as ours. But they are welcome to visit here. They are welcome to live here and we will stand up for them!"

Howell Police are investigating the placement of the flyers and were visible for the march, which went off without problem as many cars drove by honking or offering thumbs up in support. Turk told those gathered that they had no intention of playing a “tit for tat’ game with those who placed the flyers and that the march was their stand at showing what the community stood for. (JK)