Bend the Arc:CU held a small rally and memorial service October 14 to commemorate and mourn the victims of this country's current epidemic of white nationalist violence.
Called a “Rally for Social Justice,” the event was held outside the Champaign County Courthouse in Urbana, a regular stop for ICE agents seeking to apprehend undocumented immigrants.
Said Diane Ore, chair of Bend the Arc:CU, “On this Indigenous People’s Day, which coincides this year with the Jewish Holiday of Sukkot and Hispanic Heritage Month, we want to memorialize those refugees who have died in detention trying to find a better life for themselves and their families. They died because of this Administration's white nationalist hatred of the 'other.' It's the same hatred that led to the deaths of our fellow Jews in Pittsburgh and Poway, that has led to the deaths of Muslims, Sikhs, LGBTQ people, and other groups whom white supremacists don't consider 'white.'”
Regarding the treatment of migrants attempting to cross the southern border to seek asylum, Ore noted that many of them are indigenous people from Mexico and Central America whose ancestral borders overlapped the hard boundaries that the European colonizers imposed upon them. “Who, truly, is the illegal border crosser?,” she asked. “Not those to whom the lands originally belonged. Their connections and claims to this land predate many of our own.”
Ore also pointed out that the same white nationalist hatred of the “other” caused the deaths of 12 Jews in Pittsburgh and Poway. This year, on the eve of Yom Kippur, two bystanders were killed by a gunman in Halle, Germany, as he tried unsuccessfully to breach the door of a synagogue to kill the congregation.
For this reason, Rabbi Ari Naveh of the U of I's Hillel Center recited a prayer for the dead at which the names and ages of the 36 migrants who have died in ICE and border patrol detention were read, along with the names of the 12 Jews and 2 bystanders killed in Pittsburgh, Poway, and Halle. Following tradition, stones were then placed on the placards bearing their names. The shofar was then blown as a call to justice.
Added Ore, “Our congressman, Rodney Davis, has the power to influence the book of life for Jews, immigrants, Muslims, African Americans, LGBTQ, and Native Americans. His enthusiasm for funding the cruelty and inhumanity happening at the border is a stain on his soul that will be hard to erase. His refusal to use the power of his office to denounce white nationalism is a further stain. We call on him to publicly ask forgiveness for condoning such cruelty and hatred by not speaking out forcefully against it.”
Watch the live stream of the rally here