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Approximately 600 participants marched in the “Sanctuary for All Solidarity March” led by We Are Fresno/Somos Fresno on Feb. 18 in downtown Fresno.
Starting at City Hall, Fresno State students, mothers, fathers and children marched for about 1.5 miles, stopping at eight spots which included local federal and state buildings.
At each of the buildings, the marchers chanted phrases such as, “No ban, no wall, sanctuary for all” and “Show me what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like,” referring to their right to peaceful protest.
The signs that were carried and displayed by participants showed a variety of thoughts, such as, “Refugees and Immigrants Welcome;” “Fight Ignorance Not Immigrants;” “Deportation = Separation;” “ICE out of Fresno.” Some participants also wore clothing with wording directed at President Donald Trump, which read “Dump Trump.”
The organizer of the march, Ariana Martínez Lott, graduated from Fresno State in 2010 and received her degree in child development. She said she knows many undocumented immigrants who have worked and volunteered for years to make their community better.
“I just got a little tired of seeing all the brokenness and the pain when they’re still trying to be just a contributing member of society,” Martinez Lott said. “With this presidential administration, it just got to a point where enough is enough. This is an injustice, and we need to stand with our brothers and our sisters in this fight.”
Erika Castanon, a Fresno State public relations major, was drawn to the march because of what she has seen happening between the media and the new presidential administration.
“For me, it was an educational opportunity,” Castanon said. “You hear a lot about democracy and hearing from a professor recently talking about, especially people who are pursuing careers or receiving a degree in media, how much do you trust the media and the value of telling the truth.”
Castanon added that she was beginning to feel apathy toward the political climate.
“I felt a little bit defeated because once the election results came out, it felt like you couldn’t change anything, but I think this proves that by people coming together there is potential to change,” Castanon said. “There’s hope for the future of what our city is going to be like.”
Students from the University of California Merced were also present. Omee Herr, a UC Merced student majoring in material science engineering, explained she was present and participated in the march because her family comes from a background of refugees. “I know how hard it is when there’s not a lot of people standing next to you and especially in the undocumented community,” Herr said. “I really want to be part of standing with those who need a voice when they are scared or afraid. I want to be able to be the voice that they can use.”
Christina Quintanilla, a campus minister for the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, said she was present as a community member. She also said that what brought her and those close to her was their “care for the undocumented people and just the call and our faith to care for the community.”
Martínez Lott and other members of We Are Fresno/Somos Fresno are planning to host another event on March 16 to discuss future community participation and ways to connect to California’s elected officials.