by: Audrey Asciutto
Highlands County Indivisible, the Democratic Women's Club of Highlands County, and Candidates Turn Out for Families Belong Together Demonstration
On June 30, 2018 local organizations joined together in solidarity with groups across the country to state that “Families Belong Together”. The demonstration took place in Sebring, Florida on the sidewalk along Kennilworth Blvd. This spot was specifically chosen by organizer Cathy Dunn, because of its proximity to Sebring High School, a place where for decades children in our community, both citizens and undocumented children, have attended classes together and lead normal lives.
At the height of the protest over 80 people were spread from one end of the sidewalk to the other. What brought them together was their dismay at the zero tolerance policy at the border, which Attorney General Jeff Sessions has described as a deterrent strategy. By taking children from their parents, they hope to discourage families fleeing violence in their own countries from seeking asylum in the United States. Reports have come in from across the nation of children being detained in makeshift camps, being medicated with psychotropic drugs, being held in detention centers where employees have criminal records themselves, including sexual crimes. These policies are unAmerican and they need to end.
It does not matter what administration started these policies.
Sebring joined 900 other cities, including The Villages, Tallahassee, Key Largo and more across the state on this day of action. Florida joined 53 other US states and territories to protest family seperation. Among the participants were Susie Johnson, President of the Democratic Women's Club of Highlands County, Lois Schlabach of Highlands County Indivisible, Cathy Dunn primary event organizer, community organizer Ada McGowen, Democratic candidate for Florida Congressional District 17, Bill Pollard and candidate for Florida House District 55, Audrey Asciutto.
Bill Pollard stated that “We all needed to support keeping all families together. Look at the problems of getting children and parents together now that so many have been torn apart. That was cruel no matter how you look at it.” when asked why he came out for a few hours to demonstrate.
I came out to meet supporters and share my sadness in learning about these centers. As a mother myself, I can only imagine the desperation of parents who are willing to uproot themselves from their homes and travel dangerous distances seeking a safe place for their children. Separating families who are caught at the border is not the family values that I know or support and from the reactions of this protest, and these people (and the passing cars) agree.
It seems that the public supports keeping families together and opposes inhumane policies. The protest was well received. Passing cars gave encouraging honks and waves. Sadly, at the same time in Collier County, ICE was sweeping neighborhoods and detaining individuals with final orders to leave or were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. At times likes these people are afraid to leave their homes or answer doors for fear of being picked up. These people largely are contributing members of our society and bring a richness to our lives.
Cathy Dunn was the event organizer and Highlands County Indivisible and the Democratic Women's Club of Highlands County came out heavily to show their support. Thank you Cathy for bringing us all together this day!
To keep up to date on the latest happenings please join both Highlands County Indivisble and the Democratic Women's Club of Highlands County.
The Highlands County Indivisible Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/
The Democratic Women's Club of Highlands County Facebook is at at:https://www.facebook.com/
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Politics By: Audrey Asciutto
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