By Patrick Yost
A barrage of investigative reports detailing claims of inhumane conditions at migrant detention facilities, for both children and adults, have dominated the national news media in recent weeks, prompting nationwide protests, demonstrations and vigils.
One such event will be held in Madison’s Town Park on Friday, July 12 at 7:30 p.m. in conjunction with other demonstrations planned at the same time across the country. Organizers are calling the event “Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Detention Camps.”
According to Jeanne Dufort, a local member of the Morgan County Democrats, the nationwide events “will bring thousands of Americans to detention camps across the country, into the streets and public places and into their own front yards, to protest the inhumane conditions faced by refugees.”
The demonstration at Madison’s Town Park will feature speakers, readings, music before closing at 9 p.m with a candlelight vigil and a moment of silence. Donations will be collected for relief organizations.
“For one evening, we are asking that people step away from partisan positions and policy ideas,” said Dufort. “We are asking our neighbors and friends to take a moment and feel, really feel, the pain that actual human beings are experiencing on our watch, and to call for an end to cruel practices, now.”
Major news outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, NBC, ABC, and CBS have all published detailed accounts of family separation policies that have led to young children being taken from their families after crossing the border and held in overcrowded facilities lacking medicine, beds, and basic hygienic supplies. Reports are also claiming incidents of sexual and physical abuse toward detained migrants.
One of the groups facilitating the nationwide demonstrations is the New Sanctuary Coalition, an advocacy organization “led by and for immigrants to stop the inhumane system of deportations and detentions in this country.”
“We shine a light on the inhumane treatment of migrants and refugees by the current administration. To be silent is to be complicit. To sit this out is to be complacent. Now is a time to stand for what is best in all of us, to stop the worst of us. We must stand for one another. At New Sanctuary Coalition, we hold in our hearts a vision of a world worth fighting for,” said Ravi Ragbir, Executive Director of New Sanctuary Coalition.
Over 170 Light for Liberty vigils are planned across the country and globe for July 12. Each event will include advocates, activists and impacted persons who will speak on the issue of human detention camps in the United States.
“At 9 p.m., around the country and around the world, participants will light candles in a silent vigil for all those held in US detention camps to bring light to the darkness of the administration’s horrific policies,” said Dufort.
Lights for Liberty is a loose coalition of grassroots activists, with support from long-standing immigrants’ rights organizations and other organizers. “The vigil is an opportunity for us to come together for a common cause – humane treatment of detainees,” said Dufort. “As Americans, our core principles and our laws require one thing when our government deprives anyone of their liberty: treat them with basic decency, providing food, water, and personal safety. This standard is universal – applying to prisoners of war, convicts, people who cross borders without documents, and asylum seekers. Whenever we face great challenges – and make no mistake, the situation at our southern border is an epic challenge – we must return to our core principles.”
“We call on our government to treat detainees humanely, now.”