Passing through Depot Square Park in my hometown of Englewood NJ, I saw, out in the humid noonday air, about 100 people carrying signs and listening to a set of speakers. One was introduced as the pastor of a local church. I was a bit surprised, as ministers in the past have tended to appear in the park on Sunday rather than Saturday.
But, as if answering my inner question, the minister said those there had come together to this prayer vigil for uniting immigrant families—part of an entire nationwide group of events protesting the Trump Administration’s decision to split children from their undocumented immigrant parents.
The Englewood gathering was a modest affair, particularly compared with the Families Belong Together march taking place in DC on this same day. But not everyone can travel to DC for such events, and it is as important to press for change where one lives as in conventional political and media centers. Roughly a dozen of these rallies were planned for New Jersey on this day, and I’m glad that my town was one of them.
When I passed through the park again an hour later, the crowd was still there. Just before snapping this picture, I noticed tables where people could sign petitions to local elected officials. In the case of mine, who are all liberal Democrats, I wondered about the efficacy of this, as these officeholders are all inclined to protest the policy anyway.
But in the end, I decided to sign one of the letters. Better to take a small stand like this than to sit at home, raging impotently at this most recent of the President’s daily outrages that begin a cycle of protest, reaction and fresh offense against law, civility, common sense and reason.
Besides, I think it’s important, in chronicling events such as this, that Trump partisans realize that protests against his policies are not the exclusive domain of celebrities who let his bullying get the better of them, but rather are more likely to feature those I saw today who argued calmly and forcefully that the administration’s immigration policies violate Americans’ best, most moral instincts.