Videos: Tom Abbott
Photos: Tom and Nadin Abbott
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Feb 18, 2017 (San Diego) The rally was supposed to start at 11, but it started a little later, partly due to the still growing crowd. When Reporting San Diego got to the part, there were less than thousand people, at the height of the rally we estimate it reached four thousand. Like the women’s march, that expected about 20, 000 people, and drew double, this rally expected about 1200 participants and drew far more people.
Reporting San Diego spoke with Mohamed Abdallah, one of the organizers. We asked him about the fear that exists among both Mexican and Muslim refugees. He told Reporting San Diego “There is a lot of fear right now because we have a lot of Somalian refugees, we have a lot of Mexican- American, Mexican refugees who are here. So there is a lot of fear right now.”
He also said that they will be marching until something is done about it. “This is what brings people together. This is how we come together as one.”
He added that “events like this is what mobilize people, is what helps people to come out in support. And when they do so, when legislation came to pass, these are the things that will be helpful.”
One of the goals is to have the city of San Diego declared a Sanctuary City. This official step would mean San Diego Police would not assist immigration and customs officials in enforcement. Chief Shelley Zimmerman has stated that the department will not change it’s enforcement policies.
On that line, Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-AD-80) spoke on the legislation in Sacramento. This is The California Values Act (SB52). This legislation has left committee and is getting ready to go to the state senate. You can read the legislation at this link, though we are quoting some of it.
This bill would, among other things, prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies and school police and security departments from using resources to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes, as specified. The bill would require, within 6 months after the effective date of the bill, state agencies to review their confidentiality policies and identify any changes necessary to ensure that information collected from individuals is limited to that necessary to perform agency duties and is not used or disclosed for any other purpose, as specified
According to Gonzales, “there is an urgency on it.” she mentioned this to the crowd as well. This bill is moving in the legislature and would make the idea of sanctuary cities in California obsolete since the whole state would be a sanctuary state. In doing this, we will be joining Oregon and Maine.
She also said, “what is happening in our country is not acceptable.” Gonzalez added that they intend to protect immigrants. This is why the legislature is considering SB 54.
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke as well. He started by wishing all peace be with them in English, Arabic, and Spanish. He then said “I am Muslim. I am Mexican, I am immigrant, I am an American!” This declaration of solidarity was with many who feel afraid and alone. He added, “Lady Liberty, with her torch, said to people from all over the world, bring me you’re tired, you’re poor, your huddled masses. Come to this country, work hard, play by the rules and you will find a better life. That’s the America I know.”
Villaraigosa also recounted his family history. His grandfather coming to this country about a hundred years ago. He worked hard, he made and lost money, even lost his family. It is that generation, the greatest generation, “on who’s shoulders we stand.”
“Today we say to Donald Trump and those who would deport 11 million people, not in my America.”He also added, that it was time to say no to a ban, and yes to building bridges.
“We come as Americans from every hue, from every country, that we are one in the values that we believe in.” This is a celebration of humanity “based on our talents, not where we come from.”
Marin Ramos, a senior at King Chavez High School in downtown San Diego also took to the microphone. She is one of the many Dreamers who was brought to the United States as children. In her case, she was three years old. She came from Guaymas, in the Mexican state of Sonora. She was brought to the United States with her sister.
After a couple years, she was five, she went back to Guaymas and staid with her grandparents. The children at the Mexican school made sure that she felt as a stranger, a foreigner. This is a common problem with people who go back to Mexico. Even now children who are American citizens, or Dreamers, are denied access to public education in Mexico.
It does not matter that in theory education is a right in Mexico, or that the Foreign Office has recently promised to make these procedures easier. Still, these kids, just as Ramos found out, are foreigners in their own land, and are treated as such. She “did not belong, in the country that I was born in.” Ramos added, “the students made it very clear that I was not one of them.”
What does she want to do? She is a Dreamer and wants to attend university. Someday she hopes to go home and see her grandparents again, and show them that she succeeded, that she reached the American dream.
Iman Taha Hassane spoke of his own trip to the United States. He came as a refugee and now is a US citizen. Only in this country can you have the former mayor of Los Angeles declare himself a Muslim for the day, in solidarity with others. This is the country that he fell in love with. This is a country where people can come out into the streets and express their distress.
This is also a country that celebrates diversity. He also pointed out something else, which is not generally speaking taught in schools. One third of African American slaves were Muslims. They lost their identity, because they were not allowed to practice their faith once they arrived in this land.
He also pointed something else. The first country to recognize the United States was Morocco, a Muslim country, in 1777.
Muslims have lived in the United States, even before the country was formed. They are a small minority, but they are integral to the country. They have been here with us from the beginning.
After the speakers, the rally became a peaceful march from the County administration building to the Federal building. It is not a long walk, but with anywhere from three to four thousand people, the group was at one point cut off in half by the San Diego Trolley. There were no incidents whatsoever, and as the rally terminated at the Federal building, the local Calpulli dancers awaited the crowed.
As the dancing started the crowed started to disperse. By the time we left, the crowd had thinned down to a few hundred, watched by both San Diego Police and Department of Homeland Security officers. SDPD was relaxed, DHS was not.
We also overheard several people thanking SDPD for their professionalism in keeping the crowd safe. We are including also some video of the march, with that happening.