for Inland 360
A public protest called Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Concentration Camps is organizing against the reported inhumane treatment of asylum-seekers at the southern U.S. border. It is part of a nationwide event, with a local protest planned from 7 to 8 p.m. Friday, July 12 at Pine Street Plaza along Main Street in downtown Pullman.
“We feel that even if it doesn’t affect us directly, we still have a responsibility as citizens in this country for policies that are being implemented by the (Trump) administration. So it may not be directly affecting us, but it’s still our responsibility,” said the Rev. Steve Van Kuiken, whose Pullman church, the Community Congregational United Church of Christ, is one of the local organizers of the protest.
The people of the Palouse are the first in the region to join the national protest, Van Kuiken said.
“We have been educating ourselves on this for a long time,” he said. “For us it’s a moral issue; we feel that it’s our responsibility to speak out against (mistreatment).”
The event is also being organized by the nonpartisan activist group Palouse ProActive, and is nationally supported by the Women’s March, United Church of Christ and other organizations.
There will be speakers and a few moments of silence for those impacted. The Church of Christ will distribute a list of ways to get involved. Everyone is welcome to participate.
“Feel free to make a sign or poster, to make a statement, and come and meet other people who feel the same way, because sometimes when these things are going on, you can feel overwhelmed, and it’s good to know that you’re not the only one who is upset by what our country is doing at the border,” Van Kuiken said. “It can help you feel less discouraged.”
The event was created “in solidarity and allyship with communities most impacted by the abuse of our immigration system,” according to the Lights for Liberty website. According to the group’s mission statement, “we are a coalition of people, many of whom are mothers, dedicated to human rights, and the fundamental principle behind democracy that all human beings have a right to life, liberty and dignity.” It states that protests aim to bring attention to reported inhumane treatment migrants face “at Trump’s concentration camps,” where it claims witness accounts include teen mothers and babies being held outdoors in “dog pounds,” children as young as 4 months being taken from their parents, withheld medical care and “LGBTQ and disabled individuals being held in solitary confinement.”