After the Executive Order banning travel was signed, the Not In Our Town Facebook page lit up wondering how to show support of all of our neighbors. A solidarity event was planned last Sunday, and three days later almost 1,200 people showed up at the BCPA to support the diversity in our community.
The mission of Not In Our Town is to stop hate, address bullying, and to make a safe, more inclusive community. This positive event included prayers from the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and Episcopalian faiths, speeches by both mayors, a U.S. Army Veteran immigrant from Kenya, a representative from the Immigrant Project, and representatives from two of our legislative offices. In addition, a member of the Dimmitt Grove Neighborhood Association shared the history behind a yard sign campaign that is springing up all over town.
The yard sign reads in Spanish, English, and Arabic as follows: “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.” There was a small group outside the BCPA with signs that read, “In Our Town Pro-Citizen and Pro National Security. One man was quoted as saying, “What we see inside is a very negative message.”
I guess this is one of those “alternative facts!” If he’d actually sat inside, he would have seen signs like “Humanity has no borders,” “Never Stop Believing that Fighting for What is Right is Worth It,” “the American Flag,” and “Open House…Welcome.” He would have heard prayers, personal stories of immigrant relatives, and the invitations sent to our local, state, and national legislators.
Each was contacted and asked two questions: One: “Do you affirm your support of the First Amendment (Freedom of speech and religion); and two: Would you stand against any registry that was based upon a person’s faith beliefs?” Senators Durbin and Duckworth sent a legislative aide who read a letter supporting both questions. An aide for Senator Barickman read a statement that all were welcome to come to his office and/or share their thoughts (but it didn’t answer the question).
No replies were sent from LaHood, Sommer, Davis, or Bill Brady. Dan Brady was there for a time, but left before giving his answer. The Regional Office of Education, Wesleyan, Heartland, Unit 5, and District 87 sent statements of support to provide all students with a safe and inclusive environment, and Dave Bentlin represented ISU with a similar statement of support. The rally was affirming, inspiring, and encouraging! We are a nation of immigrants, and we must never forget it.