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Immigrant Youth Leaders & Children’s Health Experts Among Other Dynamic Speakers at Saturday’s “Families Belong Together” Rally in Cleveland

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Americans are outraged at the fact that our own government is separating families at the border. The photos, videos, and audio recordings that document our own government’s abject cruelty have fueled unprecedented levels of donations from ordinary Americans and inspired more than 700 rallies across the country today.   

The primal pain of separating a parent from a child is also taking place daily in Ohio homes and airports, far from the limelight. The massive, military-style raids that have been used against Ohio workers have brought the pain of local families into the public eye. Constant deportations are leaving hundreds of Ohio children without the support and guidance of one or more of their parents. And the Administration’s discriminatory Muslim ban is keeping Ohio families apart, uncertain when they will be together again.  

On Saturday, June 30, Ohioans from across northeast Ohio came out to Cleveland’s Public Square to rally against these policies and demand that the U.S. government protect family unity in all forms.  Kicked off by first-time organizer Avril Burg, the event was co-sponsored by Action Together Lakewood Area, America’s Voice Ohio, Cleveland Jobs With Justice, Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, District 14 Voice, Indivisible CLE, IRTF-Cleveland, Lorain County Rising, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio.

The rally was MC’d by Javier Espitia, Deputy Regional Director of Cleveland with For Our Future Ohio.  Speakers included:

  • Nadeen Aljijakli, an Immigration Attorney from Solon and an expert on the Muslim ban and Syrian immigration;  
  • Natalia Alonso, a youth organizer with Los Niños de Corso’s in Fremont, who has been helping meet the humanitarian needs of families impacted by recent immigration raids;
  • Avril Burg, organizer of Families Belong Together CLE;
  • Lily Cunningham, M.Ed., a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor;
  • Libni Lopez, Student Life Program Coordinator, Oberlin College Multicultural Resource Center;
  • Dr. Robert Needlman, a Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician; and
  • Pastor Dustin White with Radial Church in Canton.

Carlos Antonio Cruz of Cleveland performed the poem “Home” by Warsan Shire, which describes so powerfully why many people today are fleeing their native countries in search of safety for their children. The poem begins: “no one leaves home unless / home is the mouth of a shark” and has become a rallying cry for refugees.

Find pictures and video of the rally on the event’s FaceBook page, as well as on Twitter @BelongCle.

Cleveland’s rally was one of 14 taking place across the state, and more than 700 nationwide. Ohio rallies are taking place today at 10am in Ashland; Cleveland; Columbus; Delaware; 11am in Bowling Green; Cincinnati; Dayton; Oxford; Toledo; and Wilmington; noon in Oberlin and Portsmouth; and 1pm in Norwalk and Youngstown. Check the national website for updates and information on events happening in neighboring states.