Chattanooga Times Free Press

Res­i­dents rally against im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies,

- BY MARK PACE STAFF WRITER

DAL­TON, Ga. — Pro­test­ers con­cerned with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies held a rally in a parking lot along­side Del­ray Farms Fresh Mar­ket in Dal­ton, Ge­or­gia, on Satur­day. At­ten­dees held signs de­cry­ing fam­ily sep­a­ra­tion, lis­tened to speak­ers, sang and prayed for the fu­ture of the United States.

A sim­i­lar event was held at Coolidge Park in Chat­tanooga and in cities across the U.S. as part of the na­tion­wide “Fam­i­lies Be­long To­gether” event. Most at­ten­dees voiced op­po­si­tion to fam­ily sep­a­ra­tion car­ried out by the ad­min­is­tra­tion. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump since has signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der end­ing the prac­tice. How­ever, lo­cal event or­ga­nizer Amer­ica Gruner with the Coali­tion of Latino Lead­ers be­lieves there’s still more that needs to be done.

Gruner would like to see poli­cies she be­lieves cre­ated a cri­sis over­turned.

Many of the event’s at­ten­dees agreed.

“I came be­cause I care,” Dal­ton res­i­dent Joyce Ox­ford said. “I care about im­mi­grants; I care about fam­i­lies; I care about chil­dren. I’d like to see the chil­dren re­united with the par­ents, im­prove­ments for ICE and more peo­ple who care.”

A man in a “Sup­port Trump” T-shirt came to the event, qui­etly and peace­fully stand­ing in the crowd.

The man, Dal­ton res­i­dent Allen Gille­spie, said his son broke the law and has been in­car­cer­ated for 12 years, away from his fam­ily.

“It’s just a sim­ple thing. If you break the law, you’re go­ing to be sep­a­rated from your fam­ily,” he said. “That’s my mes­sage.”

Gille­spie came to the event to show his sup­port for the pres­i­dent and to en­sure peo­ple who agree with his im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies were rep­re­sented, he said.

Nearly 50 peo­ple were at the rally when it started, and the crowd grew through­out the event. In to­tal, about 100 peo­ple came to the mar­ket to show their dis­plea­sure. How­ever, as pas­tors, com­mu­nity mem­bers and oth­ers spoke, one Dal­ton woman had heard enough.

Lou Wheat came to the front and asked to speak, a re­quest de­nied by Gruner, who asked the woman to leave. Gruner later also asked Gille­spie to leave and re­quested that me­dia mem­bers not in­ter­view ei­ther at­tendee.

“This isn’t why we’re here,” Gruner pleaded.

Wheat agreed to speak with lo­cal me­dia out­lets to share what she wanted to say to those in at­ten­dance.

“It’s re­ally been both­er­ing me how they get up there and talk about these chil­dren be­ing sep­a­rated from their par­ents and all,” she said. “First of all, when you break the law, you’re go­ing to face the con­se­quences. If they knew this was hap­pen­ing, why did they break the law and jeop­ar­dize their chil­dren and fam­ily and all? Why is it when my kids go to ap­ply for a job, it says ‘must be bilin­gual’? Well, you know what? My kids didn’t take Span­ish be­cause we live in Amer­ica.”

Two pro­test­ers, Stephanie Bor­rillo and Drina Hav­i­land, came and stood be­hind Wheat with signs while she spoke and later de­bated with her about im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy. The women then gave a tear­ful in­ter­view about the event and im­mi­gra­tion.

“I’m heart­bro­ken that our coun­try would do this to the in­no­cent chil­dren,” Hav­i­land said.

Con­tact staff writer Mark Pace at mpace@ times­freep­ress.com or 423757-6659. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @the­mark­pace and on Face­book at Chat­tanoogaOut­doorsTFP.

 ?? STAFF PHO­TOS BY DOUG STRICK­LAND ?? Do­minic Banks, right, holds a sign Satur­day as Allen Gille­spie stands nearby wear­ing a “Sup­port Trump” T-shirt dur­ing a demon­stra­tion in the parking lot of Del­ray Farms Fresh Mar­ket in Dal­ton, Ga. Dozens of de­mon­stra­tors gath­ered to protest the de­ten­tion and sep­a­ra­tion of im­mi­grant fam­i­lies at the United States bor­der.
STAFF PHO­TOS BY DOUG STRICK­LAND Do­minic Banks, right, holds a sign Satur­day as Allen Gille­spie stands nearby wear­ing a “Sup­port Trump” T-shirt dur­ing a demon­stra­tion in the parking lot of Del­ray Farms Fresh Mar­ket in Dal­ton, Ga. Dozens of de­mon­stra­tors gath­ered to protest the de­ten­tion and sep­a­ra­tion of im­mi­grant fam­i­lies at the United States bor­der.
 ??  ?? Tom Kennedy, left, Drina Hav­i­land, cen­ter, and Dian Hall bow their heads dur­ing the demon­stra­tion.
Tom Kennedy, left, Drina Hav­i­land, cen­ter, and Dian Hall bow their heads dur­ing the demon­stra­tion.
 ?? STAFF PHO­TOS BY DOUG STRICKLAND­S ?? Thomas Bor­rillo rides on the shoul­ders of his fa­ther, Joe, as his mother, Stephanie, stands nearby dur­ing a Satur­day demon­stra­tion in Dal­ton, Ga.
STAFF PHO­TOS BY DOUG STRICKLAND­S Thomas Bor­rillo rides on the shoul­ders of his fa­ther, Joe, as his mother, Stephanie, stands nearby dur­ing a Satur­day demon­stra­tion in Dal­ton, Ga.
 ??  ?? Joyce Ox­ford wears a sign that reads “I care” dur­ing the demon­stra­tion.
Joyce Ox­ford wears a sign that reads “I care” dur­ing the demon­stra­tion.

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