Around 400 people attended a rally in Cranston against the separation of families Saturday afternoon, held in coordination with hundreds of rallies across the United States. The rally outside the Adult Correctional Institutions broadened the scope of public concern from opposition to the Trump Administration‘s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration at the border to a call for an end to all family separation and all policies that facilitate family separation.
Organizers, including the March for Racial Justice and AMOR RI (Alianza para Movilizar Nuestra Resistencia) explained that, “We are here to end all forms of family separation. The recent executive order is a political tool to quell public outrage and hide the fact that detaining and deporting children with their parents is still separation from family, community, and justice.”
Central to the theme of the rally was that family separation, far from being an anomaly of a particularly nativist and racist presidential administration, is an ugly part of our nation’s DNA. Organizers write:
This nation was built on family separation from the beginning of colonization of indigenous land and the transatlantic slave trade, and this legacy continues today. Mass incarceration, police brutality, a punitive child support and foster care system, United States militarism, criminalization of sex workers, low-wage work, pipelines that destroy Native land, and restrictive immigration policies are just a few ways this government destroys families, biological and chosen.
We cannot be silent. NOBODY should be forced away from community. We will not stop talking about colonialism, patriarchy, ableism, slavery, capitalism, or imperialism just to get a concise message together as a reaction to Trump’s policies.
Organizers are demanding “restorative and transformative justice.”
[W]e need healing and accountability mechanisms that don’t make us turn to the government when harm occurs. In the end, all roads lead back to the grassroots organizations on the front lines working to protect the most affected by the state-sanctioned violence inflicted upon black and brown citizens and migrants by ICE and the police.
Here is some video and pictures from the event:
“From the time of the European Invasion, more than 500 years ago,” said Catarina Lorenzo, director of AMOR RI. “families have been separated… Every time Central America has tried to change our core political and economic system the government has interfered to violently repress our struggles… We continue to pay the consequences of this US intervention…”
“It is never okay to harm children,” said David Veliz, an organizer with Progresso Latino. “It is not lost on me that these are brown kids. .This country will always justify horrendous things by having us believe that black and brown are less than human.”
“My people were here,” said Randy Noka of the Narragansett Indian Tribe. “This country was not discovered – This country was inhabited. What makes a politician think that they are better than a person with brown skin, that they can stop them at the border?”
“I am an immigrant,” said Ward 3 Providence City Councilmember Nirva LaFortune. “I was also once undocumented, and I was separated from my family. One of the things I am noticing today is that we have evolved. My parents didn’t have this support. There was no one there to hear their cries. There was no one there to hear their prayers while I was back in Haiti and they were here in America.”
“We need to recognize that people are being separated from their families through war, through genocide, through political persecution, and that is also our responsibility as Americans in the US to fight against that too,” said community activist Justice Gaines. “We have to understand who’s allowed to be a family in today’s America. There are hundreds of queer and trans immigrants who don’t get to be even called families. Who don’t get to come here with their partners. Who don’t get to be acknowledged as the parents of their children. .Because they don’t fit our understanding of what a family is supposed to look like.”
Gaines is running for Providence City Council in Ward 1.
“If one of our families are broken, then all of our families are broken,” said Linda Heng, founder and coordinator of a young women of color program called Rising Sisters. “There are so many families out there affected directly by deportation and the criminal justice system, and some are waiting to be either deported or to be free.”
“The narrative we were hearing across the nation really wasn’t talking about the ways in which this system isn’t just about immigration,” said Sophia Wright is a community organizer for the Behind the Walls Committee at Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE). “I think a lot of the speakers today really highlighted what we want folks to understand: That the police system, the immigration system and all the private companies that profit from those systems are connected. And it’s not a coincidence that sometimes they end up being the same.”
“AMOR envisions a world where the community has the power to ensure sovereignty. Where families are do not fear being separated due to their documentation status and where black and brown communities are able to protect themselves against police violence and immigration raids. AMOR envisions a world where mental and physical health are the number one measure of community safety. Furthermore we envision a society where individual acts of hate and state sponsored hate are defeated by frontline community resistance.”
Among the many groups represented at the rally was Redneck Revolt, “an anti-racist, pro-lgbtqia, pro-working class community defense organization offering… security, de-escalation, and medical for activists and leftist organizations.”
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