Glenwood-area residents rally as part of ‘Lights for Liberty’ event against human detentions
Roaring Fork Valley residents gathered in Sayre Park Friday for a “Lights for Liberty” vigil to raise awareness about human detention camps in the United States.
At the eight-o-clock hour, local musician Frank Martin strummed a Woody Guthrie tune as children, parents and grandparents held signs around the park’s gazebo that read, “Stop Governing by Fear and Hate,” “Stop the Trauma, Close the Camps” and one which asked, “Where are the ‘All Lives Matter People?’”
Calling the vigil a way to shine a light on the “systemic mistreatment of immigrants,” event organizer Maureen Biermann cited how over 60 percent of detainees were being held in facilities managed by private companies such as GEO Group.
According to geogroup.com, the for-profit company contracted out by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) operates 69 corrections facilities in the U.S. alone.
“This community does have a huge population of immigrants, and children of immigrants and it is important to show them that we are here and that we care,” Biermann said.
Additional “Lights for Liberty” vigils occurred Friday across the state, country and world, including one directly outside an immigration facility in Aurora managed by the GEO Group.
On a separate but related topic, local attorney Colin Wilhelm addressed the crowd about what to do in the event that ICE shows up locally at someone’s doorstep amid the Trump administration’s threat of mass deportations.
“You don’t have to speak to an ICE agent if they come to your door without a valid warrant,” Wilhelm said before a translator interpreted the message in Spanish.
“A valid warrant means one that is signed by a judge for your arrest,” he said. “So, if they hold up a piece of paper that claims to be a warrant and it’s not signed by a judge, it’s not valid and you do not have to talk to them.”
Those in attendance Friday erupted into applause when Wilhelm said, “The only way we can end these concentration camps is by rallies like this tonight. … And, we need to end that by our voices out here tonight, through the rest of the year and into 2020 to get that man out of the White House.”
Originally from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico but raised in Glenwood Springs, 30-year-old Zabdi Fuentes said she attended Friday’s rally in Sayre Park simply to raise awareness.
“I really want people to see these people’s lives and what they are going through,” Zabdi said. “… So that they understand it’s not because they’re evil or wanting to abuse the system, but because they want to have the same thing we all want in this life — happiness and the ability to provide food and shelter to their families.”
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After the planning and zoning commission unanimously denied ANB Bank’s proposal to construct a new facility in the city’s 900 block, the Glenwood Springs City Council will hear the banks appeal case Thursday at its regularly scheduled meeting.