Vermont rallies join ‘Keep Families Together’ effort
BARRE — Parallels with the past were drawn in the Granite City and Rutland during “Keep Families Together” rallies on Saturday to protest the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration.
The policy has separated children from families and imprisoned thousands of migrants in internment-like detention centers, fueling a wave of condemnation and call to action by the national MoveOn activist movement. In Vermont, rallies were also held in Burlington and Essex Junction.
In Barre, more than 100 people gathered outside Studio Place Arts on Main Street to hear speeches related to the historical exodus of immigrant children fleeing brutal police suppression of a 1912 textile mill labor strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts. In Rutland, there was a similar rally that drew about 130 people carrying signs and chanting to Main Street Park to hear speeches protesting Trump’s immigration policy. Rutland has wrestled with its own recent failed attempted to bring Syria refugees to the city because of local opposition.
Barre’s event was organized by Sue Higby, executive director at SPA, at the suggestion of Dana Walrath, of Burlington, the author of “Like Water for Stone,” which details the harrowing story of family members who fled the atrocities of the Armenian Genocide in 1915. Famed children’s author Katherine Paterson, a former Barre resident, also read from her book, “Bread and Roses, Too,” which documented the labor strike in Massachusetts and the arrival of the immigrant children in Barre.