Spirits remain high at Claremont immigration rally

The cold, rainy weather didn’t stop hundreds of Claremonters from turning up for the “We the People in Solidarity” rally at Memorial Park.

Many of those who attended the rally on Sunday afternoon held signs in support of immigrants and Muslim-Americans, and denouncing President Donald Trump.

Congresswoman Judy Chu, Mayor Sam Pedroza, Mayor Pro Tem Larry Schroeder and Councilmember Joe Lyons were there, as well as council candidates Murray Monroe and Zach Courser.

Mr. Pedroza specifically addressed the younger people in the audience.

“This is your time. This is what you’re going to inherit,” he said. “Claremont welcomes everyone, and we have had some fantastic baby boomers who have done a lot of good work. But now it’s your time. And you guys have a lot of work to do. And you got to get out there and vote.”

The event was emceed by Pitzer College Professor Emeritus of Chicano Studies Jose Calderon, and Joe Baghani of We the People PAC, a political action committee based in Corona.

Mr. Calderon kept the crowd going by peppering chants in between speakers, such as “no hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here,” and “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here.”

Mr. Schroeder, who is running for re-election to city council, recited the famous poem “First they came…” by Pastor Martin Niemöller. He said Trump’s plan for a border wall was “neither effective or efficient.

“It’s just a symbol of bigotry, exclusionism and discrimination,” he said.

The city council’s recent resolution to reaffirm Claremont’s commitment to diversity, a largely symbolic move passed in the wake of tensions over the Trump Administration’s immigration rhetoric, was mentioned throughout the rally.

Mr. Lyons characterized the resolution as, “simply reiterating what Claremont is all about, has been about and will continue to be about as long as I have breath to speak for the values that we hold.”

Jeanette Ellis-Roysten, President of the NAACP’s Pomona Valley branch, held up signs which read “people power” and “voting power” and fired up the crowd with chants such as, “Mr. Trump you’ve got to go, and take your cronies with you.”

“Mr. Trump, we’re standing letting you know that you do not scare us,” she said. “We have been here before. You do not scare us. We are not paranoid. You are not going to put fear in our hearts. We are going to allow the immigrants to live and to build wherever they want to.”

The occasional drizzle throughout the two-hour meeting,   didn’t stop the rally-goers from showing their support. Topics ranged across the board, from Muslim rights to the rights of undocumented immigrants to the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which has recently been given the go-ahead to be completed.

Ms. Chu relayed the story about an Iranian national and green card holder, Sarah Yarjani, who was stopped and detained by immigration officials the day Mr. Trump’s now-halted travel ban was put in place. Ms. Yarjani was deported, Ms. Chu said, but eventually returned to the United States when the ban was blocked by a federal judge.

Ms. Yarjani was Ms. Chu’s guest in the House chamber during Mr. Trump’s address on Tuesday.

“I want President Trump to look into the gallery and see the faces of the people that he’s hurt,” she said. “And I want the whole nation to see that President Trump’s policies are hurting so many well-meaning and hard-working immigrants that are working in this country.”

Claremont resident Susan Tiffany, who attended the rally with her 8-year-old daughter Luna, said the rally was “very positive” with no negativity, and was particularly inspired by the no-DAPL speakers. Once she found out about the rally, Ms. Ti

ffany had to bring her daughter.

Luna, however, thought the rally missed something. “I thought Trump would be there, but he wasn’t,” she said.

—Matthew Bramlett




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