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Immigration Demonstration and Vigil for Murdered Muslim Youth Refugee

In the middle of the afternoon on Tuesday, June 19, we received an action alert via email about a demonstration that would be taking place that very afternoon in Cleveland's Market Square in order to challenge the immigration policies of the Trump administration, particularly the very controversial practice of separating children from their undocumented parents when detained.

After we arrived in Market Square, we learned that the format of the demonstration would allow anyone who had anything to say on these matters to go up to the microphone and say it.

To be sure, some of the things that were said were quite heated and not constructive, such as likening the Trump administration to fascism and referring to the children as being  "stolen" from their parents.

Nevertheless, some noteworthy things were said too, such as when a woman reminded us that actor Mr. George Takei was interned with his family during World War II and has stated that, even though conditions in the camp were unhealthy, the fact that his family remained together made it endurable.

Another man spoke from the heart when he shared with us that he was both a father and a grandfather and he couldn't imagine how tough it were be if his children and grandchildren were forcibly separated from him.

Still, another man scoffed at how the children's detention centers were defended, partially because the kids were allowed to play video games. With great indignation, he exclaimed, "They don't need video games, they need their parents!"

After we left Market Square, we headed to the area around West 112th Street and Detroit Avenue to attend a vigil organized by our friends in "Peace in the Hood," regarding the tragic murder of Mr. Bahati Juma, a 16 year-old Muslim refugee from Tanzania who had been living in the United States for several years.

On April 17, late in the evening, Mr. Juma was shot to death in the parking area of the apartment complex where he lived. By the accounts of all with whom we spoke, he was a fine student at John Marshall High School and an eager athlete.

Before we go further, we urge you to read this news story to learn what happened.

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The vigil was held in the small basketball court where Mr. Juma was shot, and the speakers included community activists, leaders in the Muslim community, several of whom came to us from Africa, and family members.

Participants expressed their grief and moral outrage that this could happen to a young man who came to the United States to escape such dangers. Family and friends assured us Mr. Juma did not belong to a gang, even though it's believed his murder was gang related.

Most of all, what was said centered around apprehending the murderer and bringing him or her to justice. Furthermore, those present were very determined to see that steps are properly taken to address the continuing issue of gang violence.

On this latter point, it was said by our good friend, Mr. Khalid A. Samad, that we respect each other and we stand united.

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison

Margaret W. Wong & Associates LLC

Aimee Jannsohn