BERLIN - Following the revelation of negative comments about victims of school shootings, religions and races by 22-year-old Steven Baleshiski, the GOP candidate for the District 30 state representative seat, a rally is being held Thursday to condemn hatred.
Called “Rally Against Hatred,” on Facebook, the event will begin at 6 p.m. in front of the Berlin-Peck Memorial Library, 234 Kensington Road.
“Unfortunately, the future with this candidate is not looking very bright, honestly,” said Frederick Morley Jr., the organizer of the rally. “It’s looking like we’re going to regress, rather than progress with Mr. Steven Baleshiski.”
The Facebook posts made by Baleshiski said a survivor of the Parkland school shooting can burn in hell, people who are Muslim worship the devil and distinguished himself as a white male while calling African American Congresswoman Maxine Waters dumb.
Baleshiski said he didn’t like people who use tragedies to take away rights from Americans, he’s a devout Christian and doesn’t want to be led astray and wanted to dispel the notion that all President Donald Trump supporters are racist, when asked by the Herald about the comments.
The rally is intended to be a nonpartisan demonstration not endorsing or supporting any candidate, added Morely. It is open to the public, and will feature some speakers.
It’s being held before a joint meeting by the Board of Finance, Town Council and Board of Education scheduled for 7 p.m. inside the library to inform the town’s elected officials of Baleshiski’s comments, Morley said.
“It’s a gathering, an opportunity to bring our community together,” said Kristen Campanelli, a co-organizer of the event. “We just thought it was important to show our community is not like that,” she added referencing Baleshiski’s posts.
The rally also comes after the Connecticut Education Association on Friday spoke against Baleshiski’s comments.
“No candidates running for office, Republican or Democrat, should make vile comments and attacks regarding students who speak out on matters of public concern,” said CEA President Jeff Leake in a press release. “That is the opposite of what we teach about democracy, respect for each other, and a civil society.”
Brian Callahan, the campaign manager for Baleshiski, said he thinks the rally is a rally to bring people out to hate Baleshiski. Baleshiski has told him, Callahan said, that he regrets the poor choice of words he used and if he could do it again he would give his comments more thought.