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Columbus, Ohio Stands United Against Hate

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Last night, nearly 1,000 Columbus residents of diverse backgrounds called for unity among all Ohioans and rejected the politics of division and hate exemplified by the President-Elect’s rhetoric and policies.

The Columbus United March for Justice was organized by a number of community members and leaders who believe that the election of Donald Trump represents a threat to civil rights, basic human decency, and the liberty of already marginalized social groups, including women, immigrants, LGBTQI, people of color, the working class, and people with disabilities.

Within hours of Trump’s election, Columbus residents started to organize.  Within days, several hundred people attended an ad hoc meeting titled “Where Do We Go From Here?”  Within weeks, nearly 1,000 Columbus residents came together to make this powerful, non-violent statement.

In powerful speeches, immigrant residents of Columbus described their love for this country and their desire to make it their permanent home.

Jessica Pantaleon Camacho, a DREAMer who has permission to work legally in the United States due to the DACA policy, said: “I am an undocumented American living in fear in Ohio.”  She went on to describe her love for this country, as well as how it feels to now have her future in jeopardy because of the election of Donald Trump.

“I need our government to stand up to ICE and not allow our police departments to come into our house and tear our families apart,” she said.

Watch video of Jessica’s speech here.

Joseph, a leader in the refugee community, also spoke about his family’s worries following the election of Donald Trump and their resilience to keep building their lives in the United States: “Because if you tell us to go back, where should we be able to go?” he asked.  “That is why we are looking for home.”  Joseph echoed many of the themes Jessica touched on as well, stating “I pray to build the dream of America with people who love this country.  And I have love for this country.”

Watch video of Joseph’s speech here.

In the wake of Monday’s violent attack at OSU’s campus, and the President-Elect’s attempt to once again politicize a national tragedy, it’s just as important as ever that Ohioans come together in solidarity.

Last night, this growing group of allies pledged to work together to keep everyone in the community safe in an era of renewed bigotry against marginalized people.  Community members joined Columbus United event organizers in delivering a list of declarations and actionable demands to local, state, and federal officials–demands that focus on ensuring social, economic and environmental justice for all people.

And, in a recent Medium post, America’s Voice Political Director (and Columbus resident) Matt Hildreth asked “Will the City of Columbus allow our local police to take part in Trump’s deportation force?”–an important question that Columbus taxpayers want answered.

Hildreth laid out three points where action is needed from local officials to better protect all Columbus residents–immigrant and native-born:

City leaders must reaffirm their commitment to standing with immigrants and ensure that the presidency of Donald Trump will not change this commitment;

City leaders must clarify and explain police directives regarding racial profiling and immigration enforcement;

Columbus law enforcement leaders must work to build relationships and trust among immigrant residents, as well as support the community campaign for city identification documents.

The fact is, Donald Trump has promised to deport millions of immigrants as soon as he is sworn into office as the 45th President of the United States. The vast majority of those that Trump will target with his inhumane deportations are Ohioan in all but on paper. They are our family, friends, and coworkers with deep ties to this community.

Trump’s plan would amount to a humanitarian crisis not yet seen in the United States. And with the appointment of Steve Bannon and nomination of Jeff Sessions into strategic positions within his administration, it’s clear that Trump intends to follow through on his promise to deport millions of immigrants.

However, elected officials in Columbus can resist the full-scale destruction of local families by enacting policies that limit the ways in which immigrants who do not commit crimes come into contact with Trump’s deportation force.  And, thousands of Columbus residents are calling on them to do just that.