Controversial rally coming to Waterbury

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Waterbury could be thrust into the national spotlight Saturday because of a group that some people think is a hate group.

“Act for America” is holding rallies in close to 30 cities across the country on Saturday — Waterbury is one of them. City police have spent a lot of time bracing for many scenarios.

“We’re always worried about safety and we’re going to be prepared,” said Deputy Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo.

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“Act for America” is calling its rallies “March Against Sharia’s Law” — they say that’s something that’s allowed for atrocities to be done to women within the Muslim community. But, Waterbury Muslim activists say that’s a lie being spread by “Act for America” and that’s why local Muslims will hold a counter protest to the “Act for America” rally.

“Our community has no oppression towards any woman,” said Fahd Syed, a local Muslim activist. “I believe Act for America is nothing but a hate group…they’re trying to divide Americans on false allegations.”

“They’re holding an anti-Sharia rally when it’s really an anti-Muslim rally,” he said. “They’re going to use a lot of propaganda that’s not factual.”

While the rally and counter protest are going on, there’s also a separate 5-K race for charity happening in the same area near Waterbury City Hall. The Waterbury Police Department has been in many meetings over the last few days to come up with a plan to try and keep everything and everyone safe. They’re working with state police and other city agencies. They’ve also reached out to all of the groups.

“We’ve had some candid conversations and very good dialogue with all groups that will be involved that we’ve identified at this point, so we’re confident that things will go well,” said Deputy Chief Spagnolo.

“Things will be peaceful on our end,” Syed said. “We come in peace and we don’t want any of this (violence). It’s best for people to get to know us instead of being against us.”