Taking Back the Night

The Take Back The Night event group, led by Counseling psychology graduate Todd Ryser-Oatman (left) chanted as they marched from Patterson Office Tower towards Center Christian Church in downtown Lexington on Tuesday, April 14, 2015. Photo by Marcus Dorsey

By Elena Vaughan

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“Take Back the Night,” Lexington’s annual march and rally to call attention to violence, has been a part of the local community for more than 30 years.

The march to the rally began Tuesday night outside of UK’s Patterson Office Tower at 7 p.m.

About 60 people carried signs that read, “Unite the Night!” and “Break the Silence,” as well as “Lesbian Rights” and “End Racism.”

Psychology graduate student Todd Ryser-Oatman carried a megaphone and led chants along the way to the rally.

The chants varied from, “What do we want? No violence. When do we want it? Now!” to “Two, four, six, eight, no more stalking, no more rape!”

Police escorted the crowd to Central Christian Church where the rally was held, located at 205 E. Short St.

Anna White, a 25-year-old woman who came with her friends, attended “Take Back the Night” for the first time, though she specified that it was not her first time at a rally.

“I just believe in no violence,” White said.

Once the march reached Central Christian Church, everyone gathered inside, either sitting in chairs or on the floor. Around 100 people filled the gathering space.

Councilman Jake Gibbs was the first to speak in front of the people gathered inside.

He said his wife had told him she’d experienced sexual misconduct on the streets of Lexington, “in broad daylight.”

“(Sexual violence) damages a community from the ground up,” Gibbs said.

He also spoke of hope, saying, “Change is coming.”

After the speakers, the people in the church were asked to join hands and call out strengths or feelings they have experienced or witnessed.

A range of answers came from around the room, from both men and women alike.

“Becoming social,” “forgiveness,” “hope,” “reclaiming sexuality,” “self respect” and “community” were just a few of the many answers people shared.