Wearing “RESIST” buttons and carrying “SOLIDARITY” posters, about 50 Ithacans attended the “Stop Criminalizing Our People” rally at the Commons.
Carolina Osorio Gil, director of Cultura Ithaca and rally organizer, said she helped organize the rally to protest the recent U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement presence in Ithaca.
“The reason we’re doing this [rally] on a Tuesday is because ICE has come on Tuesdays. When they’ve come, we noticed that it’s been on a Tuesday,” Gil said.
One of the three Ithaca residents arrested by ICE in January, Somkiat Wandee, was released from a detention center on Tuesday, an immigration rights coalition said.
As they continued organizing the event, the event ended up growing among the community, Gil explained.
“As we talked with other fellow activists and organizers, we decided to come together and bring several movements together under the umbrella of sacrimentalizing our people,” Gil said.
The rally ended up being a joint effort representing the struggles of people of color, indigenous people and the LBGT community and featured 11 different speakers.
“So [we’re] connecting all of the different issues that we’re all struggling with — from immigration to local community-based alternatives to incarceration, criminalization of black and brown bodies, the war against indigenous people here, as well as on a national and international level,” Gil said.
Despite the different groups they were representing, many of the speakers shared the common themes of solidarity, unity and fighting back.
During the first speech of the rally, Fabina Colon, director of the Multicultural Resource Center, told those at the rally “to not isolate the different types of hundreds of issues that continue to plague our families, our communities at so many levels.”
“We want[ed] to set a statement that we are stronger together, and […] for solidarity to have a support system and to really have each other’s backs, understanding the risks that we will take when we are confronted with the war against us,” she said.
Prof. Russell Rickford, history, was also at the rally and called those in attendance to act and be united in resistance.
“We have to seize power. We [have to] gain the power of action. We [have to] send clear messages and clear signals to ICE and other fascists and racists […], and, if and when they attack us, we will fight back,” Rickford said.
The speeches were well-received by many members of the rally, who expressed their support and gratitude.
“It’s not just a current campaign or the possible focus of a rally, but how we live our lives, and are we part of the solution … all those things, I appreciated what was said today from the stage, and the encouragement to speak to our legislators,” Ithaca resident Claire G. Flores said.