The Paw

Hundreds gather in Sherwood for ‘Keep Families Together’ rally

Protesters join 700+ national rallies in support of keeping families at the border together.

By Meghan Turley, Online Editor

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On Saturday morning, an estimated 150+ families and participants gathered in front of J. Clyde Hopkins Elementary School in Sherwood to take a stand against President Trump’s “Zero Tolerance” immigration policy and protest the separation of families at the border. The gathering was one of the 700+ marches and rallies held nationally, including one in downtown Portland. Participants were encouraged to wear white, a color that will connect attendees to each other and create a powerful media statement.

In Sherwood, many participants carried signs with sayings like “impeach [Trump] now” and “Las familias merecen estar unidas.” Cars driving by honked in support, raising cheers from participants. For many attendees, it was the images of children in cages that drew them to participate. Camera Brown and her two children attended the rally. “Our future, the children should not be locked up in cages. Everyone should be welcome in America,” Brown said. Her daughters agreed. Brown did not think that Trump’s recently signed executive order would help the situation and called for further action.

Trump’s order called for the ending of his administration’s family separation policy. Currently, families are being separated at the border after crossing illegally in an attempt to seek asylum. It is still unclear the exact effects the order will have on these separations. Over the last year, over 2500 children that were detained have either been lost or unaccounted for. When asked about their thoughts on the executive order, many attendees of the Sherwood rally admitted they did not know much about it.

THS Student Stiennah (right) and friend Savannah (left) with their signs

Alma, an immigrant herself from El Salvador, came out to the rally to show support because she felt that what is happening at the border is alarming and concerning. She also brought her children with her because she wants them to see examples of how they can make change for issues the care about. “In the late 80’s,  I was one of those children in detention centers, but I was not separated from my family,” she says. “ That made all the difference for me.”  Alma came out to show support for not just those being separated or detained at the border, but also for those who have made their lives in this country, and are suddenly being ripped away from the place they know as home. “This is not the best this country can do,” she added. “ We need to make sure things change.”

Her daughter came with her mother because she didn’t think what was happening was morally correct and didn’t agree with the idea of families being separated at the border. “My mom has taught me to fight for what I believe in, and I think this [issue]  is important.” she said.

Sherwood organizer Maddie Gav-Briggs and husband Patrick were inspired to organize the group to provide members of the community a chance to voice their opposition to traumatizing children and separating families at the expense of children. “It’s very, very inspirational to see how many came out today,” Gav-Briggs said.

The rally at the North Park Blocks downtown drew large crowds as well, with the organizers Move On page registering approximately 4500+ RSVP’s. Signs downtown were covered with phrases such as “I hate crowds, but I hate Trump more. Keep families together” and “Kids don’t belong in cages.” The rally was organized by Kate and Erin, who are moms of preschoolers. According to the event page, they organized the downtown rally because they were “deeply concerned about the lasting harms to babies and children by separating them from their loving parents.” Speakers at the gathering included Kayse Jama, the Executive director of Unite Oregon, Maria Garcia, a local activist who immigrated herself as a new mom, and Senator Ron Wyden.

“How great it is to look out at the face of justice for immigrants,” Wyden exclaimed during his remarks, taken from a live video on the Facebook page. “ I thought we might want to start by sending a message to Trump,” Wyden added, gaining cheers from the crowd. “I guess he’s out playing golf or something. I was just thinking that it would be good to let him know that my hometown does not support him or his zero tolerance policy.”

 

A  protest from local far-right group Patriot Prayer was also planned for later in the day at Terry Plaza. The Facebook page for the group says that the purpose of the rally is to “promote freedom and courage.” The page also states that groups from Washington, California, Arizona, Texas, Massachusetts, and Florida, are all coming up to join in the group. “WE WILL MARCH WITH NO EXCEPTIONS” the event page claims. The Facebook group also encouraged participants to wear protective riot gear and open-carry. An AntiFa group was also planning to hold a protest. It was unclear whether or not they were related to the events earlier in the day.

The immigration rallies follow a string of similar protests in Portland this week, most prominently the camp outside of Portland Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) offices downtown. The protest, known as “Occupy ICE” has garnered national attention, with similar protest popping up around the country. The main goal of the campout is to shut down ICE Portland. Police presence near the protest has escalated the situation, and resulted in eight protesters being arrested.

Although the rally in Sherwood may not have been the biggest nationally, those who turned out did so with great enthusiasm and support. “No matter where you come from, your skin tone, everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity,” Tigard High Student Stiennah said. Her friend Savannah agreed. “I came because it’s a human thing. No one should be treated the way these people are being treated.”

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