Hundreds of people marched to protest family separations in simultaneous rallies in Greensboro and Winston-Salem on Saturday.
In Winston-Salem, they marched on the Forsyth County Law Enforcement Detention Center, which leases beds to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, chanting, “No ban, no wall, sanctuary for all.”
In Greensboro, Mayor Nancy Vaughan, declared, “We cannot allow this. Send the children back to their parents. Separating children from their parents, that is not a family value. Children need love from their parents. Thank you for being Greensboro strong. When we’re together we can send that message loud and clear.”
The rallies brought together a range of center-left, socialist, interfaith and immigrant rights groups. A large contingent of International Socialist Organization and Democratic Socialists of America marched through downtown Greensboro to a Families Belong Together rally at LeBauer Park organized by Indivisible Guilford County NC and other organizations, chanting, “No borders, no nations, stop deportations.” In Winston-Salem, the rally was jointly sponsored by Indivisible Piedmont NC, Sanctuary City Coalition of Winston-Salem, International Socialist Organization, Democratic Socialists of America, while drawing support from Local 635 Winston-Salem, a union representation stagehands and other entertainment professionals.
Protesters carried signs reading, “Abolish ICE” and “Remember in November.”
“We ought to ask those running for office if they’re willing to abolish ICE,” said the Rev. John Thornton, an associate minister at First Baptist Church on Fifth at the Winston-Salem rally. “Not ask if it’s viable. Not ask if it might make some people mad in their weirdly drawn congressional districts.”
Terrance Hawkins with Drum Majors Alliance acknowledged that religion has been used as a tool for exclusion in the far-right agenda taking hold in the United States.
“Too often it seems people in this city, in this nation pray a vain, alt-Lords Prayer,” he said. “They pray: ‘Our founding fathers which art in heaven, hallowed be thy names. Thy empire come, thy will done on this stolen earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day the daily bread of racism. And forgive us for hundreds of years of trespassing as we refuse to forgive those who trespass our borders. Lead us not into paying reparations. Deliver us from equality. For thine is the injustice and inhumanity forever and ever.’”
In Greensboro, Mayra Vera, a High Point resident who is a member of Siembra NC, charged that the executive branch of the federal government is a “white supremacist administration” falsely portraying asylum seekers as “criminals and gang members.”
“As a mother, I am filled with outrage,” she said. “When think of my 10- and 4-year-old, I think that could be me. ICE enforcement is nothing more than government-sponsored terrorism. People are being taken away their families when they take out the trash in the morning. If you are outraged about the family separation at the border, you need to be outraged by the family separation here in North Carolina by ICE. You need to be outraged by the family separation when people can’t afford bail in the mass incarceration system that primarily affects African-American people.”