GOSHEN — More than 250 people gathered Friday night at the Goshen courthouse for the lights 4 liberty rally, angrily protesting the Trump administration’s recent decisions regarding immigration and the crisis at the Mexico-United States border. Candles were dispersed to all those in attendance to be lit at 9 p.m. as a symbol of light in what the organizers termed the middle of dark calamity.
The lights 4 liberty organization is a nationwide campaign to end the immigration crisis in America.
Starting at 8 p.m., the rally began with a number of local speakers who have been affected by the current state of immigration in the U.S.
The opening speaker, Isabela Torres, compared the current suffering of Hispanic immigrants to the Trail of Tears and the way Native Americans were treated in the early foundation of the United States.
“Let’s end this,” Torres shouted from the podium at the top of the courthouse steps.
After Torres finished speaking, the crowd started to chant enthusiastically.
“No hate, no fear. Immigrants are welcome here,” echoed off the buildings in downtown.
Emma Helmuth discussed internment camps and the treatment of Japanese-Americans in the mid-1940s and related it to the treatment of Latinos in today’s society.
The crowd, mixed in terms of age and ethnicity, clapped and cheered. Many were also carrying signs to display their messages of support for immigrants.
The Rev. McNeal Stewart, pastor of Canaan Baptist Church in Elkhart, made his way to the top of the courthouse steps and passionately spoke from the podium.
“We must recognize and value the potential and promise of our brothers,” Stewart said.
At 9 p.m., candles were lit by all those who stood in front of the courthouse.
A young Goshen resident, Wendy Hernandez, stood in the back of the large crowd. She spoke, saying those who are attempting to seek asylum don't intend to cause harm.
“What’s going on needs to stop. That’s why we’re here.”
Camden Chaffee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-533-2151, ext. 314.