She wasn’t the first speaker at yesterday’s rally at the State House against President Donald Trump‘s Muslim ban executive order, but the story Cheryl Al-Sasah tells about a boy who is fleeing Syria for the safety of America is a perfect example of what’s going so wrong with our country right now.
Al-Sasah helped to create and organize a group called AHOPE, Americans Helping Others Prosper, which started when the first refugees from Syria arrived in Rhode Island. This all volunteer group cleans and furnishes homes for refugees, helps them to acclimate to Rhode Island and makes sure they have food and clothing and other human needs.
Right now there is an empty apartment in Rhode Island where a boy should , feeling safe and secure, not wondering if he will be sent back to Syria to face terror and possible death.
Sterk Zaza, another founder and volunteer for AHOPE, explains more about the need for this organization here.
Amara, from Brown University, asked to take the podium because she wanted there to be more Muslim, hijab-wearing women of color represented on the stage. She was the last to speak, but I’m putting her here.
Abdelnasser Hussein is the head of the Islamic School of Rhode Island.
Mufti Ikram Ul Haq, spoke on behalf of RICMA, the Rhode Island Council for Muslim Advancement.
Vanessa Flores-Maldonado confronted the crowd with an uncomfortable truth: “America was not very great for a lot of us… even before Trump I was being told to go back to my own country.”
Those interested in creating sanctuaries for immigrants should know that passing the Community Safety Act (CSA) in Providence will bring greater safety to the people who are being targeted by Trump.
Sarath Suong, a refugee from America’s war in Cambodia, reminded the crowd that refugees happen because of America’s wars overseas. “I was born in the largest refugee camp in Thailand,” said Suong, “I was born into war, I am a child of war. I know what war smells like, and I know what war feels like. And right now, in this country, it feels like war.”
Seena Chan, a youth organizer with the FANG Collective, told the nearly 2000 people at the State House that her parents are refugees. When she told her mother what Trump did, her mother started crying. “To see my mom cry in fear… it hits home.”
Chan said that at her school, they are still asking teachers for a list of students who participated in last Friday’s walk-out. Chan says that such lists, if demanded from the schools by the Trump administration, puts her and other kids in these schools at risk. “Even though they said there will be no consequences they will have a compiled list of students… If Trump says, ‘Give me a list of the undocumented students, of these Muslim students’ they will give it up.”
Carolyn came to ask the crowd to support the campaign to get licenses for undocumented persons in Rhode Island. She called on Governor Gina Raimondo to keep her campaign promise and issue and executive order.
Sophia Wright represented DARE (Direct Action for Rights and Equality). DARE is putting together a list of resources available in the community that will allow communities to protect themselves. If you have services or things to share, text @supportRU to 81010.
Rabbi Michele Dardashti dug deep into her relious tradition to say, “Egypt is upon us, friends, and we are going to be brave.”
Reverend Donald Anderson said, “Mr President, we are not that stupid. We know what evil looks like and this is evil.”
Laufton Ascencao-Longo emceed the event.
Rhode Island State Senator Jeanine Calkin started the event.
Governor Gina Raimondo vowed to protect all Rhode Islanders.
Representative Aaron Regunberg has been in the fight since Trump’s election.
“Providence always has been and always will be a sanctuary city!” declared Mayor Jorge Elorza to terrific cheers and applause.
Georgia Hollister-Isman of the Working Families Party RI.
Representative David Cicilline.
RI Treasurer Seth Magaziner.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.