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LOCAL Commentary :: Civil & Human Rights

Latino Community Fights for it's Rights; Solidarity Welcome

Thousands of Lations march in Prince Willim County to denounce anti-immiggrant resolution. They could use some support from their Gringo allies.
An hour before the start of Sunday’s immigrant solidarity rally, nearly a thousand Latinos had already arrived at Prince William County community plaza to protest an anti-immigrant resolution recently passed by the Board of Supervisors. By the time the crowd turned from the stage to march up Prince William’s parkway, numbers had swelled to over 5,000 and cars continued to stream into the plaza area as marchers filled a mile-long stretch long PG Parkway, carrying a huge “Rescind the Resolution? banner, waving small American flags and chanting in Spanish and English. By the end of the event, crowd estimates ranged from 7,000 to 15,000, an incredible show of strength and courage from Prince William County’s Latino population.

Local organizers have been working hard since the Board voted unanimously, and despite the opposition of hundreds at the hearing, to adopt a resolution authorizing local service agencies to withhold services from undocumented immigrants, and giving police the right to question anyone they believe may be undocumented, basically legalizing racial profiling. Organizers have been threatened for their work, and have had to struggle to find non-Latino allies in the county willing to speak publicly.

Last weekend’s march came in the middle of a week-long economic boycott of non-Latino businesses in the county, and a work-stoppage is planned for October 9th. All these actions are the result of community meetings in which over 3,000 people total gathered to discuss the resolution and come up with plans to convince the Board not to implement it. Organizers are planning to go back to the community again to discuss next steps.

Clearly, the outcome of this struggle in Prince William County has implications for the rest of Virginia (Loudon County recently passed a similar measure), and for the rest of the country. Immigrants in Prince William County took a courageous stand last week, going public despite the risk. While it was inspiring and beautiful to see such a powerful demonstration organized and attended mainly by the Latino community, the lack of white faces in the crowd was disappointing to me. There were allies in the crowd, and over and over I heard Latinos thanking them for their presence. This is a historic moment, and there is much those of us who currently have legal status can do to help. Immigrant solidarity meetings are happening in Charlottesville, and hopefully soon in Richmond, as well. !Gobierno, escucha, el pueblo esta en lucha!

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