OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Hundreds of people gathered in Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza on Friday evening to protest conditions for immigrants and threats of planned immigration enforcement raids this weekend.
The rally was at times sullen, sad and reflective. There was little anger, but the speakers and crowd were determined and at times ferocious. At other times they bowed their head in prayer and the entire crowd was silenced in heartbreak.
City Councilmember Noel Gallo, who represents the Fruitvale District, invited his 11-year-old cousin to share his time. She burst into tears while thinking of migrant children separated from their families.
“They need to be free and with their families like me,” she said, choking back sobs.
The rally was one of several planned in the Bay Area and hundreds across the country on Friday. It was organized by the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance AFL-CIO but endorsed by other labor unions, faith groups and elected officials.
The protesters were deeply disturbed by reports of terrible conditions at the border, with children held separated from their parents and detention camps that were overcrowded without giving detainees access to proper food or hygiene.
In addition, President Donald Trump has threatened mass deportation roundups, possibly coming this weekend.
Several local elected officials spoke at Friday’s rally. Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan said, “Alameda County is committed to this fight.”
She pointed out that the county recently funded a permanent immigration office in the public defender’s office as well as a hotline for immigrants to call for legal assistance if they are detained by immigration authorities, (510) 241-4011.
City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan ceded her time to her policy director, Bobbi Lopez, who recalled coming to the U.S. as an immigrant in the 1980s when she was 7 years old.
“I was scared,” she said.
But she remained with trusted family, unlike many of the children arriving in the U.S. today. Instead, they are being held in “subhuman conditions,” she said.
“This kind of behavior cannot be normalized,” she said.
Oakland Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas, the daughter of immigrants from the Philippines, said Trump’s policies were the result of “white supremacy and hate making history repeat itself over and over again.”
“Tonight we send love and healing to families who are feeling the unspeakable pain of separation,” she said.
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