Families Belong Together Rally Brings Over 1,000 to StatehousePosted on: June 30, 2018, by : Jeff Turner
By Jeff Turner
The Families Belong Together Coalition held a rally Saturday June 30th in protest of the Trump Administration’s immigration policies. Several different activist organizations were represented at the event, including MoveOn, the ACLU of Indiana, Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance, Faith in Indiana, and Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky. Although an executive order was issued by Mr. Trump halting family separations of asylum seekers who turned themselves in at the border upon entry, an estimated four thousand children remain separated from their families, the Trump Administration having no plan put into place on how to reunite these separated families.
“I am one of the organizers with the Bloomington Proactive Collaboration Organization, I’ve created petitions and helped organize the event,” said Lydia Lahey, who attended the event with Alex Zakel of the same organization. “I believe that showing up in numbers is the greatest support you can give to a cause.” Zakel voiced similar sentiments. “I am here to push back against inhuman immigration practices and where this is leading.” When asked where he believed this was leading, he said: “(It) creates scapegoating of immigrants for problems related to capitalism, and a more open policy of racism and white supremacy.”
This statement was echoed by many in attendance, well over a thousand, on the West Side of the Indiana Statehouse. Powerful statements were given by children and adults, immigrants who shared their experiences and voiced strong opposition to the policies set into motion by the Trump Administration, whom many feel has stooped to an all-time low in order for Mr. Trump to appease his base.
“This Administration is cruelly pitting groups against one another, leading to more division, more persecution,” said Gretchen Landon, one of the attendees. “(It’s time for lawmakers to) listen to the people, represent us, unite us.”
It wasn’t only liberals/progressives and Democrats who came to the rally. Several Republicans showed up also, voicing the same concerns and frustrations.
“Trump (has) started a hate freight train that no one can stop,” said Pam (who wouldn’t provide her last name), a Republican from Indianapolis. “People now believe they can be racist, people who normally kept their beliefs to themselves, and it’s wrong.”
She also voiced concerns about the recent news that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, once considered a swing vote on the court, announced his retirement. “I’m now worried about Roe v. Wade. When I was in college, I knew people who would have illegal abortions and the rich ones would just fly out of the country to get them. I came out to protest the Vietnam War, never thought I would be out protesting again, but now we are fighting for our democracy.”
The diverse crowd in attendance all voiced similar concerns, all deeply alarmed by the zero tolerance policy that resulted in these family separations, as well as the direction the country seems to be heading.
“I’m frustrated and upset with what’s going on. I feel I have a responsibility to go out and change it somehow,” said Grace Ortuzar, who came to the rally with a friend of hers. “I mean, I’m worried about what’s going to happen with immigrants, minorities. It’s a threat to everyone as citizens.” When asked if she felt people, specifically lawmakers, would take notice of events like this, she responded “I think it’s part of a bigger process, but I think it can motivate change and let lawmakers know that we care about what is going on.”
And judging by the record number of people in attendance, more than expected, a great many Hoosiers do care about what is going on. They are opposed to this Administration’s zero tolerance policies dividing families, which in the process causing more division in the hyper-partisan, highly polarized America we now live in. If actual change is possible remains to be seen, as the man in charge of the current Administration acts more like a schoolyard bully than a competent, capable leader, a sentiment voiced by numerous people at the event.
However, not everyone seemed to agree that this rally, nor any of the other protests and marches that have taken place all around the country will have the desired effect. One attendee, who asked that his name be withheld, said that he felt “these types of events are more about people venting, all about them, for photo ops… They don’t help. We need to get edgier, get out more than this.”
Frustration was visible in all who were at the rally, some more so than others, who have been watching what has been happening in this country the last eighteen months. Nonetheless, many remained hopeful that change is not only possible, not only can it happen, but that it MUST happen.
More information on the event and their sponsor can be found at www.familiesbelongtogether.org.