Announce major unity march between Latino Christian and Arab-American, Muslim communities
Protesters gathered outside the McNamara federal building in Detroit Tuesday to oppose the latest version of President Trump’s Muslim ban and to call for US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions to step down. Trump made minor revisions to an earlier Executive Action to overcome the objections of federal courts with a new order that continues to shut down immigration from several Muslim majority nations, leaving many refugees out in the cold. The move comes in the wake of reports that Sessions lied in his Senate confirmation when he testified that he’d never met with Russian officials during the presidential campaign.
“The Muslim Ban 2.0 is but another way that the Trump administration is showing its hostility towards certain immigrants.” said Dawud Walid, Executive Director, of the Michigan Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI). “Sessions endorsement of it shows his inability to properly enforce the civil rights laws of our nation.”
Michigan United opposed the appointment of Sessions as Attorney General based on his long history of obstructing voting rights and the rights of immigrants. Minister Helen Peterson read from a letter by Coretta Scott-King, who stood against Session’s nomination as federal court justice in 1986. In it, King said “Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts,” The group took the same position when opposing his nomination to lead the Justice Department.
As President Trump unveils his revised travel ban, immigrant rights organizations are reacting with outrage. The new order makes minor revisions, but keeps the core of Trump’s original program: shutting down immigration from several majority-Muslim nations and closing the door on refugees.
“Hatred with extra lawyering is still hatred.” said Adonis Flores of Michigan United. “The Trump administration continues to undermine our core values as Americans and divide us with fear and bigotry. We are a nation that protects the vulnerable. We’re a nation that stands up for those who are in need. We don’t ban people based on their religion or nation of origin, and we don’t slam the door on refugees.”
Michigan United was already planning to hold a rally outside the McNamara Federal Building Tuesday at 5:30 to call for the resignation of Jeff Sessions. The new Attorney General has recently come under fire for accusations of perjury, but Michigan United has opposed Sessions’ refusal to protect civil and immigrant rights.
Hundreds of people from across Southeast Michigan gathered at UAW Local 600 Saturday afternoon to honor Rev. Dr. Martin L. King Jr. in a show of unity across lines of color, gender, ethnicity, religion and immigration status. Michigan United joined the United Auto Workers and community based groups in a mass call to action to defend the rights of immigrants, refugees, communities of color and the members of the LGBTQ community. In addition to the King holiday, groups cited the well documented rise in hate crimes in Michigan since the presidential election as inspiration for the event.
“We have no doubt that Reverend King would be pushing us to stand with people who are under attack because of their immigration status, the color of their skin or who they love,” said Michigan United member, Reverend Samuel Johnson of Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church. “Mobilizations like this are crucial to show that the majority of people will not tolerate hate crimes and attacks. The fight to keep immigrant families together is connected to the fight to keep all families safe.”
The Congress of Communities, Chadsey Condon Community Association, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights worked with members of the LGBTQ community to host the event. The intersection of struggles and resistance was at the heart of the gathering.
“Some victories such as marriage equality or the Deferred action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which protects immigrants brought here as children are recent,” said Seydi Sarr, General Secretary of the Senegalese Association. “Some, such as the 1960s civil rights legislation are decades old. We stand to defend them all. We fight to keep immigrant families together here in the US, for refugee families fleeing violence to be safe here. We must defend human and civil rights won for the LGBTQ community and people of color. We can win if we see that all these struggles are connected.”
“No event, not even a presidential election will stop us from standing up and fighting for human and civil rights,” said Sergio Martinez, Michigan United board member. “As Gay man who has benefited from DACA and advances in LGBTQ rights, I refuse to go backward just as Dr. King and those who fought with him resisted the backlash against civil rights laws. Those of us fighting for justice are the majority. Making that clear with gatherings like this will push us toward victory.”
Join Michigan United and our partners as we work to resist deportations.
Are you or your congregation interested in providing sanctuary for immigrants in danger of deportation? CLICK HERE to become part of the statewide movement to protect immigrant families.
We have a lot of work to do, and we need to get organized. Please cjoin our statewide strategy summit, co-sponsored with the Michigan Immigrants Rights Center. CLICK HERE to be part of the discussion on how we can resist the deportations, support families, and develop strategies for how we can stand up for justice and dignity for all.
Saturday, December 10
12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Trinity Lutheran Church
1400 W. Stadium
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Detroit city council members stood with Michigan civil rights organizations to oppose President elect, Donald Trump’s appointment of Jeff Sessions as US Attorney General. Janee Ayers, one of the city’s two at large representatives, and Brenda Jones, the council President joined the chorus of voices calling for a more moderate choice. “We’re talking about is a dangerous person.” Said Ayers. “The Civil rights act, sanctuary cities, criminal justice reform. These are all things that any one of us could have to deal with at any given time… We are all human beings who have had somebody come before us who fought so we could have inalienable rights. Now those rights are under attack.”
Sessions, the Junior US Senator from Alabama, has been a staunch opponent of immigrant rights. His bid for a Federal Judgeship ended amid controversy over reported racist statements. He’s also referred to groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union as “un-American”. Add to this President elect, Donald Trump has called for unconstitutional policing tactics such as “stop and frisk”, the use of “waterboarding and much worse” and that American citizens could be sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and held without charge.
“Donald Trump staged a very divisive campaign to be elected President” said Bishop Herman Starks of Michigan United’s Detroit Pastoral Alliance for Change. “If he hopes to heal the nation, he’s going about it all wrong.”
Starks focused on the effect Sessions would have on voting rights going forward. As Alabama Attorney General, Sessions pursued bogus voter fraud cases against African Americans. “In the post- Voting Rights era, this is not the person to put in charge of protecting minority rights.” said Starks “The next AG must have a respect for civil rights and equal protection under the law.”
KALAMAZOO, MI – The idea of pushing past the Nov. 8 presidential election in peace and unity was popular enough to attract more than 500 people to Bronson Park on Tuesday evening.
But one week after the general election, the opportunity to rail against the election of Donald Trump and divisive feelings that many say have come with his campaign, was not to be missed by those who spoke.
“I’ve been struggling to find words to say that could inspire or offer support,” said Jay Maddock, executive director of the Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center. “The truth be told, I have no words of comfort to offer you. Let me get real with you. Early Wednesday morning when it became apparent that the candidate that ran a racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic campaign was going to be our president-elect, I sat on my couch completely numb.”
He described Trump’s presidency as “a further assault on LGBTQ people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer), people of color, women, Muslim people and already marginalized groups.”
“I had one of my student volunteers give me a big hug,” Matthew Derrick, said of learning about the results of the presidential election last week.
“She hugged me and asked, ‘What’s next?'” said Derrick, who is a Western Michigan University student and Democratic party organizer who helped with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
“And she asked if I’m safe,” said Derick, who is gay.
Acting as emcee of what was dubbed “Kalamazoo Against Hate,” Derrick said racism and discrimination he saw during Trump’s campaign “has been happening well before Trump.”
What to do about it?
Amid chants of “This is what democracy looks like” and “Hey,hey, ho, ho Trump and Pence have got to go,” he and others stressed unity.
Speakers asked people to be vigilant for and stand united against any efforts by the new administration to roll back progress that has been made to claim rights for gays, minorities, women and others.
“I want to continue to make sure that people who come to this community, to this campus, to this area, … know they’re not alone,” Derrick said. “I want to make sure they know that there are people in this community with open arms who are ready to take you in and say, ‘You know what, be proud of who you are.'”
Kendall Campbell, a community organization for Michigan United, asked people to be more aware of what’s going on and to take a bigger part in the civic process. Michigan United is a statewide organization that advocates against injustice and pushes for social and economic empowerment.
“Just be aware of what’s happening,” Campbell said, “because I think if we remain stagnant and not do anything about it, we’re just going to accept anything that they give to us. We have to be aware of what’s going on around us.”
Asked what there is to do with people’s opportunity to make themselves heard — the election — just over, the Kalamazoo resident said, “Learn from it.”
Campbell suggested that people who are not pleased with the outcome of the election should start preparing for the 2020 election.
“There’s not a lot that we can actually expect from this presidency,” he said. “But I think that if we’re aware of what’s happening, in the next one we’ll be more aware that we have a right to vote and what we can actually do with it.”
Christine Lewis, also of Michigan United, said her goal Tuesday as a white woman was to inspire other whites to speak to their families, friends and neighbors who have bigoted views – or who have misconceptions about issues. She said she grew up ignoring things her family members or friends said, and distancing herself for those with racist beliefs.
But she said Tuesday, “Our job now more than ever is to lean in to one another and to call in our friends and our families and our neighbors who may be thinking differently than us. And that’s really hard.”
She said, “I’m suggesting that we, instead of alienating one another, actually turn in to folks who may not be thinking like us and have real conversations with them. Listen to them. Hear where they’re coming from. Acknowledge the pain. And invite them to join us.”
Ed Genesis, a native of Gary, Ind., who now lives in Kalamazoo, spoke about the need to break a cycle that systematically leads more blacks and poor people into prison than into college. He said he is a convicted felon who has benefited from opportunities to turn his life around. But he fears that the new presidential administration will perpetuate a socioeconomic cycle that has seen the number of people sentenced to prison quadruple since the 1980s, while the crime rate soars.
“I want people to come away with knowing that we’re not defeated,” Genesis said. “And as long as we fight together, we can continue to win the fight. It’s a never-ending fight that we all have to fight together.”
As an alternative to locking people up, he suggested that people look for different programs and ideas that will help people reach their goals and allow them to become successful.
“I want people to know that we are not going anywhere, immigrants are not going anywhere, especially my undocumented immigrants,” said Nelly Fuentes, who works on immigration issues for Michigan United.
She balks at Trump’s promise to deport all illegal aliens, which would involve millions of people living in the U.S.
Fuentes said she knows the rule of the land is against them, but she will fight for undocumented immigrants who are leading productive lives here to continue to live here peacefully.
Maddox said he wanted those who attended Tuesday’s gathering to understand “that the results of the election don’t determine the end results in our community. And that the community needs to join together to fight on behalf of one another to ensure that marginalized groups can reach their fullest potential in our society and be allowed to participate in their daily lives free of fear.”
KALAMAZOO, Mich.— Over 100 anti-Donald Trump protesters gathered in Bronson Park in Kalamazoo Tuesday night. It was a peaceful protest against the President-elect’s plans for his first 100 days in office.
“We cannot dismiss the fact that sometimes the loss of the land needs to be overrided by the loss of ethics and the loss of humanity and that’s why I am here speaking for my community,” said Nellie Fuentes.
Nellie Fuentes works for the non-profit Michigan United, and more specifically deals with immigration. Fuentes said there isn’t a comprehensive immigration plan in President-elect Trump’s first 100 days.
“I think this is truly what democracy looks like,” said Fuentes.
President Barack Obama told people earlier this week that he was surprised by the election results.
“I still don’t feel responsible for what the President-elect says or does, but I do feel a responsibility as President of the United States is to make sure that I facilitate a good transition and I present to him, as well as the American people, my best thinking, my best ideas about how you move the country forward,” said President Obama.
People like Jay Maddock, the executive director of the LGBTQ Resource Center in Kalamazoo, said they’re afraid of what their future might look like in Michigan.
“I think people are afraid of what that means for their day-to-day lives in Michigan along with 26 states you can be fired for being LGBTA and you can be kicked out of your house. I think there is a lot of fear and I think it’s all legitimate,” said Maddock.
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid spoke out in Washington, and criticized Trump for a string of hate crimes happening across the United States following the election.
“So I say to Donald Trump, take responsibility. Rise to the dignity of the office of President of the United States. Stop hiding behind your Twitter account. And show America that racism, bullying and bigotry have no place in the White House or in America,” said Reid.
In a 60 Minutes interview, Trump said he would tell people to stop using hate and violence against others of different races and that it’s “terrible,” but he is “going to bring the county together.” It was a sentiment that many at Bronson Park said they just don’t believe.
“I believe they voted for change but what they don’t know is that they voted for hate and oppression,” said Fuentes.
Kalamazoo’s Michigan United is having another event on Dec. 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. The location is to be determined. They are having a discussion about policy reform to combat Donald Trump’s 100 day action plan. Specifically, this would be policy reform for Kalamazoo at the local level. For more information head to their website.
Michigan United joins a strong roster of service and faith organizations at the Central United Methodist Church in Detroit, to begin the work of advocacy under the new paradigm that Tuesday’s election has brought to the community.
A wide range of civil rights, community and religious leaders in metro Detroit announced today they will work to defend the rights of immigrants and minorities under the presidency of Donald Trump through a series of programs and efforts that include legal action, sanctuary houses of worship and possibly civil disobedience.
Speaking in one of Detroit’s oldest Protestant congregations, Central United Methodist Church, the groups also gathered to express solidarity with Latino students at Royal Oak Middle School who were taunted last week by chants of “Build the Wall,” which Trump often used during the campaign.
Alicia Ramon, the mother of the Latina student who recorded the chants, called for an end to racism, saying that Latino, African-American and Asian-American students at Royal Oak Middle School have been subjected to repeated hate incidents over the past year. Minority students have had to deal with racist insults against them, including one once made over the intercom system, she said.
“Racism, bigotry is unacceptable in our country, in our state, in our schools” said Ryan Bates, who leads Michigan United, an advocacy group. “This country is beautiful because we are a multicultural democracy. No one should come first. No one should come last because of what color they are, when your family came here, or how they pray.”
Bates also called for resistance to Trump’s plans to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.
“Mass deportations and roundups that can break apart families are inhumane, un-American, a moral monstrosity and an economic calamity,” Bates said. “And we are going to fight it every inch of the way.”
“We are going to resist the deportations. We are going to fight for our communities.”
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About 100 people joined Bates on stage at the Detroit church near Comerica Park, which is known for its history of activism. They included advocates with the ACLU, National Lawyers Guild, ACCESS (formerly the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services), the UAW, and the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The gathering came amid an upswing in hate crimes since Trump’s election victory. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there have been more than 200 hate incidents since then. In Michigan, there are reports on social media and from advocates of Muslim Americans and Indian Americans being attacked, including a Muslim woman in Ann Arbor last week police said was threatened by a man who said he would set her on fire unless she took off her hijab. On Monday, the FBI released statistics that showed that hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. jumped 67%, to their highest amount since 2001, when the Sept. 11 attacks happened.
Cindy Estrada, a vice president with the UAW, called for fighting bias, and also fighting for economic justice, saying the election results are a sign many are unhappy with the economic status quo. She said she’s heard about some students getting excited that Trump’s win will lead to deportation of immigrants.
“There is so much fear among children,” said Estrada.
Estrada said labor and other organizers need to transform the fear into action.
“How do we take that anger and sadness and fear and really turn it into action,” Estrada said. “This is an opportunity for us to engage again, and to make sure we change this country so that all children have a home … are welcome.”
At the same time, Estrada expressed sympathy for Trump voters.
“There are so many people out there that voted for Donald Trump because they’re tired of the status quo,” Estrada said. “And we just got to talk to those people, and educate them and help them understand … focus on the real issues and not turn against each other.”
“We have to hold our leaders accountable,” Estrada said, praising Bernie Sanders. “The system we live in right now, it doesn’t work for our country. .. When 1% owns 50% of our cumulative wealth, we need to take our country back.”
But, she added, “we don’t have to fight hate with hate … it’s about fighting hate with love.”
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In an e-mail sent late Friday to the Free Press about the chants, Royal Oak District Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin said that “staff responded when the incident occurred. Adults not pictured in the video directed the group of students, who were saying ‘Build the wall,’ to stop.”
The Rev. Ed Rowe, previous pastor at Central United, and current cochair of Methodist Federation for Social Action, called upon houses of worship to be sanctuaries that can accept undocumented immigrants who need protection from deportation.
“Open up the sanctuary,” Rowe said, for those “whose very lives are in danger.”
“Resist evil and oppression,” Rowe said of Trump’s proposals.
Sergio Martinez, an undocumented immigrant who spoke in the church, said he was initially nervous about Trump’s win, but is heartened by the support of many in Detroit.
Nadia Tonova, the director of the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), a project of ACCESS, said that Arab Americans will not “hide in the shadows” under a Trump presidency.
“This is our country, too. … We are fully Americans.”
Bates also spoke up for those who might get their health insurance benefits cut under plans to rescind the Affordable Care Act, often known as Obamacare. He said his newborn baby was born premature, which many times used to lead to health insurance companies cutting health benefits.
“We fought like hell for him for four months in the hospital,” said Bates, his baby on stage held by his wife. “We’re going to fight like hell for years in the halls of Congress.”
Imam Mohammad Elahi, religious leader of the Islamic House of Wisdom of Dearborn Heights, called for an end to extremism, ending the program with a prayer.