DYLAN GREENE | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE
See the bottom of this page for a slideshow of the event.
Protesters held a march for immigrant rights in downtown Pullman on Saturday in response to the current situation at the U.S.-Mexico border.
People gathered at High Street Mall at 11 a.m. before proceeding as a group to Reaney Park, where multiple individuals, including heads of local churches and organizations, spoke in support of immigrant rights and against the current U.S. immigration policies.
The marchers, which the Evergreen estimates at about 300 people, were led in chants by emcee Lindsey Rivera, who said the event was a success.
“It was a struggle but obviously a large triumph since so many people are here,” she said.
Marchers chanted phrases such as “immigrants are welcome here” and “the people united will never be defeated.”
Many also held signs with different messages, including “where is the love” and “families belong together, duh.”
Event organizer Crystal Hogg said preparations were quick as she only began planning the event a little over a week ago.
“I picked it up and said ‘I’ll roll with it and figure it out as I go,’” Hogg said.
Hogg said she was inspired to organize the event by the three children in her family.
“My family is everything,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine having my children ripped away from me.”
After marching, the group gathered in Reaney Park, where raffles were held and a table for voter registration was set up. Multiple speeches were given in support of immigrants and their children in response to news reports that officials are separating families at the border.
Elizabeth Stevens, who stated she was there as a member of the interfaith organizations of Moscow and Pullman, said the protest was not political.
“This is not about politics, it’s about morality,” Stevens said. “This immigration policy is a stain on the United States.”
While the protest may not have officially been about politics, Matthew Sutherland, the WSU alumnus challenging for a state representative seat in Washington’s Ninth Legislative District as a Democrat, was in attendance.
Members of Democrat Lisa Brown’s campaign for the Washington’s Fifth Congressional District seat currently held by Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers also attended the event, handing out buttons and asking people to register to vote.
Sutherland said the last year has been rough for those who feel threatened by government policies.
“For some who don’t feel safe here, it’s been a struggle,” Sutherland said.
Sutherland also said the public should be skeptical of politicians given recent events.
“You shouldn’t trust your politicians who are going to make promises then forget their communities,” he said.
Ken Faunce, a history professor at WSU and chair of the Moscow Human Rights Commission, said the situation violates human rights.
“What’s happening at the border is a human rights atrocity, no other words for it,” Faunce said.
In addition to representatives from various local organizations, many people from different ethnic and racial groups spoke to the crowd at Reaney Park.
Paulina Abustan, a 30-year-old doctoral student studying cultural studies in education at WSU, spoke about the history of the treatment of immigrants in America.
“This isn’t the first time black and brown children have been separated in our history,” Abustan said.
Another speaker, Jose Manuel Carrillo from Community to Community out of Bellingham, called for the abolishment of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, saying the organization was unnecessary for the enforcement of U.S. borders. He also called on citizens to attend town hall events to hold representatives accountable.
In the same light, Faunce called for people to continue to be politically engaged.
“We cannot lose heart,” Faunce said. “We cannot stop fighting for what is right.”
Sutherland also said members of the public needed to be strong in the face of opposition to the acceptance of immigrants.
“We’re allowing our views to be drowned out by this idea that immigrants are invading our country,” Sutherland said.