By Jan Worth-Nelson
On a 90-degree Saturday, hundreds of poster-toting citizens convened at the Flat Lot in Flint and marched back and forth on Saginaw Street to protest separations of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexican border, an action triggered by the Trump administration.
To applause and loud cheers, march host Dan Chapman declared, of the family separation policy, “It can’t happen, it has to stop.”
“We are here today to make sure that the community knows, and the government knows, that we’re not going to sit by quietly and stand for this any more. Something must be done and we need to have our voices heard. Because whether you are liberal or conservative, this is a human rights issue. This has nothing to do with Democrats, this has nothing to do with Republicans. This has to do with human beings. Families belong together.”
Further, he advised, “We are here to spread peace, we are here to spread love. Let the world see that Flint cares.”
Among the protestors were many who chose to declare their view about Trump himself. And about five people bearing a Trump flag walked through the crowd, surrounded by marchers repeatedly chanting “Love not hate will make America great.”
“It’s already great,” one of the Trump supporters chanted back.
Woodside Church of Flint pastor Deb Conrad, flanked by members Karen and Kathy Eaton, carried the church’s “Flag of Humanity.” Conrad said Woodside members have been carrying around some version of the banner since 1960s, beginning with the city’s Fair Housing marches. It also went to Obama’s first inaugural and the original Selma to Montgomery march of 1965.
Mott Community College art professor Jjenna Andrews brought a pile of mylar blankets–like those given children in detention, she said. She’s making an art piece using the blankets for the downtown Flint Art Walk July 13.
Chapman, a Flint native now living in Flushing, said he is a political independent who knew as soon as he heard about the nationwide plans for the day that Flint needed to get involved. Not affiliated with either the national sponsors MoveOn.org and ACLU, he said, simply, “I saw an injustice and felt compelled to act.”
Reflecting on the march afterwards, he said, “I was amazed at the turnout for our event especially in the extreme heat. And some people came from as far away as Gladwin to take part in the protest.
“I felt the event was important because we came together to let our community and our government know that separation of families is not acceptable and we demand change,” he said.
The Flint event was one of 750 around the country, bringing out thousands of participants. According to reports from the national media, more than 2,000 children remain separated from their families.
EVM Editor Jan Worth-Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.