Bend the Arc:CU hosts a Purim themed town hall for the Democratic congressional candidates in IL-13.
Nearly 120 people packed the Champaign Public Library's auditorium on March 4 for Bend the Arc:CU's Town Hall event for four of the five candidates running in the 13th Congressional District Democratic primary on March 20, 2018.
The candidates—Jon Ebel, David Gill, Erik Jones, and Betsy Londrigan—spent nearly two hours answering questions from the audience ranging from health care to gun violence to military intervention abroad. It was their last scheduled appearance in the Champaign-Urbana area before the primary.
Because the event occurred so close to Purim, Bend the Arc:CU chair Diane Ore closed the Town Hall with remarks linking the story of Purim to today's atmosphere of xenophobia.
"Purim is, among other things, the story of what can happen when xenophobia goes unchecked. I want to spend the next few minutes talking not about Bible stories but about real stories of xenophobia that are happening in our country today. Bend the Arc:CU believes that we have reached levels of Xenophobia not seen for decades. The evidence for this is as follows: Congress refuses to enact a DACA bill despite multiple opportunities to do so.
This administration believes fear mongering is an acceptable way to ensure that immigration is never solved. Trump wants to build a wall between Mexico and the United States, immigrants are criminalized, black lives don’t matter, white supremacy is worse than it has been in the past 40 years there are certain cultures who feel superior to others and will do anything to keep their power. The list goes on and on... Bend the Arc Jewish Action wants to do something about it.
We want to translate our Jewish values into political action. That means electing officials who SHARE THOSE VALUES.We have met with Rodney Davis and we know that he does NOT share our values. We have stared him down across a table twice. And four of us in this room went to Washington to stand with and for undocumented individuals and were arrested for our trouble.
We have heard from four candidates today who do share our values. One of them will win the democratic nomination and will run against Rodney Davis. Bend the Arc:CU pledges its full support to whichever of these candidates wins that nomination. Good luck to each and every one of you."
The Town Hall represented a departure from Bend the Arc:CU's previous actions, which all have focused on DACA. Going forward, the chapter plans to extend its focus to include voter registration and getting out the vote to unseat the incumbent, Republican Rodney Davis.