A thousand people with one purpose: Abolish ICE!
The Lights for Liberty Vigil flowed with a mellifluous harmony greater than I had dreamed in my wildest imaginings. There were no police. The Alt Right did not come, and the security force worked invisibly and skillfully to de-escalate the few situations that arose because of a few people making threatening comments. The medics weren't needed, but they were a reassuring presence, as were the legal observers.
The opening music of conch shell, ocarina, drums, and other indigenous instruments was deeply evocative and set a tone of respect. Our Master of Ceremonies conveyed his knowledge of social work and government policy and did much more than create continuity among the speakers: he gave us specific information about what we can do to close a child detention center right here in Portland. Then we had a young man who has been incarcerated by ICE but has endured and transcended and is now a teacher, followed by a poet from the Latino community and two anti-fascist activists with different but complementary perspectives on the importance of connecting as community and allowing for differences in tactics. We got good news coverage, and this TV news spot that I hope you can access includes a tweet (scroll down below the opening video) with one of our speakers declaring, “This is how you build community.”
Finally, after the last, even more fiery speech, Rabbi Ariel Stone calmed the crowd with prayer and gentle song, and then a Buddhist from Peru led us in honoring Mother Earth and the four directions before embarking on walking meditation. We encircled the ICE Building, many carrying lit candles, and as we descended the hill on the other side, we walked toward a group from Jobs with Justice holding lights that spelled out LIBERATION (Extra) and then walked in front of the very beautiful altar built by Aimee Sitarz, of the Bronze Shoes project.
I am recovering today (writing this on Saturday). I was able to put my theatre background to good use, and I am grateful to the universe for flowing with us. Now I hope all that community-building pays off in action as we go forward.