Not On Our Watch

Apparently the news is reporting there were 250 people at an event I helped organize tonight, on the spur of the moment, in freezing cold weather, with absolutely no list of speakers or musical acts or anything.

For those who don’t know, I decided to do this while I was stuck in Detroit waiting for my flight here, having just been in NYC where everyone is worried; it is a city of immigrants, after all. After seeing so many other rallies planned for today, at SFO, SeaTac, JFK, Dulles, O’Hare, etc., I posted that I’d host a vigil at 7 on the LU chapel steps. I really assumed about 5 people would show up who happened to see it. I managed to message someone at the local paper about it and tagged a few people on my post who I thought might be interested.

But while I was on the plane — first stuck on the tarmac being de-iced and then flying — my colleague Jason created an event on FB and started inviting people. When I got home (finally!) at 6PM, folks had spread the invite far & wide – 1k people were invited! – and so many showed up. Again, I had no plan, except that Jason & I would speak & give out some info, & honestly, everyone else did the rest: folks made signs and brought enough candles to go around. Anyone I saw who I knew had spoken in public before I tapped to talk, and I otherwise opened the floor to anyone who wanted to speak or sing.

Chants started. “This Land Is Your Land” was sung. So was “If I Had a Hammer”. So were a few other songs I don’t know the names of. A local musician, a minister, LU students, a green bay teacher, employees of a local refugee relief org, a recent immigrant, a student here on a visa – all volunteered to speak. People read poetry. One student read a poem she’d written about her mom.

I’m flabbergasted and encouraged and grateful to live in this community that so spontaneously responded to what was just a need on my part, a need to stand up, in public, and say NO to this illegal and shitty treatment of people but to say NO too to an abuse of the ethics and founding idea of this country: that we are all immigrants, children of immigrants, grandkids of immigrants, and that yes, IMMIGRANTS GET THE JOB DONE.

Thank you so much, all of you, for not complaining about the chaos but by using your voices to make this what it was supposed to be: a public outpouring and coming together for all of us here who just needed to say NOT ON MY WATCH.

Love to you all tonight.
Stay tuned. This is only the beginning.

One Reply to “Not On Our Watch”

  1. Well done, Helen. We all must step forward now. Sunday was my third demo in less than two weeks. I’ve been at this since the 60s, but I think that was a personal best. So much to do.
    In Solidarity, Allison (Seattle)

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