OLEAN, NY — Almost 100 people gathered Friday night at Lincoln Park for the “Lights for Liberty” vigil, protesting what they say are inhumane conditions at U.S. immigrant detention facilities.
The Lincoln Park vigil, sponsored by the Immigrant and Refugee Taskforce of the Citizens Action Network, was one of more than 700 events held throughout the United States that drew thousands of people all looking for the same thing: change.
“I came out here today to stand up for people without a voice, and pray, and hope for better treatment of migrants and immigrants publicly,” Brandon Berg of Denver said. “We not only want to help the people at the border gain basic human rights but also help those that are already here and need help.”
The activists interviewed made one thing clear: This movement is not about opposing one politician or another. Instead, it is a movement based on ethics.
“Were not for open border," event organizer Linda Matthews of Olean said. "Our task force doesn’t advocate for open border. What we’re saying is that we need to treat people with decency and not create deliberate cruelty for people that want to create a better life.
”If you notice there is a whole lot of gray hair here," Matthews continued. "A lot of grandmas and grandpas are saying 'I don’t want anyone to do that to my children or grandchildren so why would I let it be done to them.' "
Many of the signs at rally were covered with quotes from the Bible, echoing calls for compassion that were repeated throughout the night.
Nettie White of Belfast held a colorful sign with the words “What you do to the least, you do to me, Matthew 20:48.”
“I am a Christian and I believe in Jesus, who loves all children and Trump's policies do not reflect any type of Christianity to me," White said. "I am opposed to that, and that is why I am here. This country is better than this.”
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