The Demonstration, organized by Portland Immigration Rights Coalition, gathered at the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) office for a series of speeches, and then marched on the sidewalk down Broadway to Pioneer Square, for more speeches. All those who spoke did so in both English and Spanish or were interpreted from either language to the other.
Shazuko Hashimoto of the Portland Central America Solidarity Committee introduced the speakers and acted as moderator for the event. Among the speakers was Caroline Gonzales, a Middle School teacher at George Middle School who testified to the panic and alarm among her students as a result of the arrests at the Del Monte canning facility.
Also speaking was Carmen Rubio, Community Affairs Director for Mayor Tom Potters Office. Another speaker, the president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and another was speaking for the Filipino immigrants, two of which were also arrested during the ICE raid.
Many more speakers followed, both before and after the march to Pioneer Square. One speaker is a mother affected by the raid. "On June 12th our lives ended. The majority of us are single mothers. I am a representative for the mothers who have been affected. There are mothers amongst us who can't even leave their homes because of the psychological effect and because of the lack of money. They can';t even buy themselves a soda; they can't even buy themselves a bus pass. They have to come to this building three times a week to sign a little sheet, and they don't have money to do that."
She continues, "Our kids are completely terrorized. They've given us some machines that we have to put in our house, and I have to tell them in a very cruel way that they can't take the machines out of the house, or the police will come."
"... ... ... Unfortunately, during these times it's when kids ask us for the most support and we have nothing to give them because we need the money to go to appointments to come here and check our bracelets," referring to a bracelet strapped to her ankle.
After the march later speakers included Camilo Mejia, the first Conscientious Objector to refuse redeployment to Iraq. On May 21, 2004, a U.S. military court sentenced Staff Sergeant Mejia Castillo of the Florida National Guard to the maximum penalty of one year's imprisonment for desertion. He had refused to return to his unit in Iraq, citing moral reasons, the legality of the war and the conduct of US troops towards Iraqi civilians and prisoners.
Camilo addressed the connection between the two issues, the war in Iraq and the persecution of immigrants, most recently, the ICE raids on the Del Monte plant.
For audio of a recent 38 minute presentation here in Portland at the First Unitarian Church:
Font COlor+"#6633cc">Camilo Mejia, RealPlayer
Camilo Mejia, MP3
Those interested in assisting the Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition can call--503-233-6787
The event was summed up for me with many signs, but by one in particular which read," Where are YOUR ancestors from? One Planet, One People."
Included in this brief report are some photogs and freeze frames from video taken during the Rally and the subsequent march. Audio of the event and a more complete list of speakers will follow soon.