With news of the rescindment of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) reaching people around the U.S., many have chosen to reach out to their communities and organize protests against the decision. One such protest took place on Sunday, Oct. 1, in the form of a march and rally organized by Knoxville Dreamers and Allies of Knoxville’s Immigrant Neighbors, in partnership with a few other organizations local to Knoxville. Supporters of DACA gathered at a courthouse in downtown Knoxville in preparation.
Before the march began, Patricia Robledo, a representative from the Mayor’s Office, spoke on behalf of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero on the issue of DACA as it pertains to those affected in the East Tennessee area.
“[Mayor Rogero] supports a continuation of DACA and the right of DREAMers to fully participate in the life of our community and country,” Robledo read.
“We all benefit when people are free to pursue education and career goals. It makes no sense to impose barriers on people who just want to be productive and contribute to our community.”
Rossy Toledo, one of the organizers of the march, spoke after Robledo.
“We need to stay together,” Toledo said. “We need to stay united. We need to extend a hand to our immigrant neighbors and ask them what they need and how they feel.”
As Toledo finished speaking, protesters began to march down the street toward Market Square, filing together on the sidewalk at the request of local police and
proudly holding a myriad of signs up as they loudly chanted, “Our country united will never be divided.”
On the other side of the street, a single Trump supporter – noted by the large Trump campaign flag he held – followed the march as it progressed through downtown Knoxville. He maintained his distance from the crowd of protesters, opting instead to simply yell, “Trump is love,” as they made their way into Market Square.
Upon settling there, Toledo invited Knoxville musician and activist Kukuly Uriarte to lead the crowd in a traditional Argentine folk song related to civil rights, entitled “La Bamba Rebelde”. After the song, Toledo invited various speakers to take the stage and share their perspectives on the discussion surrounding the status of DACA.
One speaker was Rosendo Lozano, a resident of East Tennessee at risk of deportation.
“We are here fighting for DREAMers, because they had the courage to come out, go into the streets, and ask for help,” Lozano said. “If we could push for immigration reform, this would be solved easily.”
After the rally concluded, the attendees of the march were invited to mingle and network with one another, as well as write letters to their local elected officials.
“I think it’s completely unfair that DREAMers who have lived here as law-abiding citizens should be forced to leave the only home they’ve ever known,” said Emily Randles, an MC student who attended the march. “I think they should have the same right to a livelihood as me. No one should be considered illegal.”
All photos taken by David Peters.