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Anyone who knows local musician and music teacher Jim Allyn knows he is a well-informed and relatively soft spoken individual. But when engaging him about the current administration’s federal zero-tolerance policy on immigrants that is separating children from parents and other family members, Mr Allyn’s mild mannered demeanor transforms into passionate hard-charging advocacy.
“It’s actually very simple,” he explained to The Newtown Bee June 19, five days before he and other organizers plan a community rally on Main Street. “The deliberate infliction of this type of trauma on children is criminal. This is an assault on all that America stands for as a beacon of hope for people around the world.”
The Newtown rally, planned for Saturday, June 23, from 4 to 6 pm, on the steps in front of Edmond Town Hall, is being co-organized by Mr Allyn with help from his daughter, Chaeli, along with residents Alex Villamil, and Bonnie Voegeli.
It will coincide with similar gatherings around the state and nation — with additional state rallies being promoted by a group called Action Together CT, a coalition of autonomous but allied chapters across the state of Connecticut standing indivisible in upholding progressive American values and resisting harmful and intolerant policies.
The organization’s goals are threefold:
1. Prevent enactment of laws or policies that are inconsistent with the true American values of equity, justice, and opportunity.
2. Build awareness of, empathy for, and involvement in social issues including racial justice, LGBTQ equality, religious freedoms, and female autonomy and empowerment.
3. Increase civic and community participation.
Among the planned speakers at the Newtown Rally Sarturday evening are US Rep Elizabeth Esty, Reverend Matthew Crebbin, Dr John Woodall, Rabbi Shaul Praver, Esam Boray; and Rev Dr Jenny Montgomery of Trinity Episcopal Church will offer a prayer.
Mr Allyn, along with other organizers, is encouraging attendees to wear or display a white ribbon to symbolize the pure innocence of children being affected. Attendees can also bring a white ribbon to tie to a tree branch or street lamp to highlight the effort.
The rally will feature the creation of a community banner of multicolored hand prints to show “our commitment to reach out and stop these appalling human rights violations,” according to the event organizers.
Calling those government officials behind the policy “deranged,” Mr Allyn refers to the newly initiated immigration practice as “a moral outrage.”
“The current activities have been deemed by the United Nations as gross human rights violations, so it’s incumbent upon us as citizens to confront the evil…that’s what it is, evil.”
Mr Allyn and rally organizers across the state and nation realize there is much work to be done to craft appropriate immigration policies to address the influx of those seeking residency and refuge in the United States. He and a growing number of those standing against the current practice believe “with enough public pressure we can bring this barbaric practice to an end.”
“I’m glad to see representatives from both sides of the aisle, as well as former First Ladies lining up denouncing this policy,” Mr Allyn added, referring to all five living first ladies who weighed in on the the Trump administration’s immigration policy this week.
Among them, current First Lady Melania Trump issued a statement via a spokesperson that said she “hates to see” families separated, and called on both Democrats and Republicans to change immigration laws.
Former First Lady Laura Bush joined the debate, calling the separation policy “cruel” and “immoral” and said “it breaks my heart.” She compared the separation of the children to the internment camps for Japanese-Americans in World War II.
Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter said, “The practice and policy today of removing children from their parents’ care at our border with Mexico is disgraceful and a shame to our country.”
Former First Lady and retired US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “Every parent who has ever held a child in their arms, every human being with a sense of compassion and decency, should be outraged,” she wrote.
“We should be a better country than one that tears families apart, turns a blind eye to women fleeing domestic violence, and treats frightened children as a means to a political end,” Ms Clinton added.
The local and statewide rallies Saturday precede similar and larger protest activities planned for New York on June 25, and for Washington, DC on June 30.
Mr Allyn said utilizing the symbolism of the white ribbon is appropriate, because the current practice of separating immigrants from their children is “an assault on parenthood and motherhood.”
With his voice quivering with emotion, Mr Allyn said, “the idea of taking children away from their parent for any period of time is evil, because it is unnecessary — it’s like domestic terrorism in the name of policy that has nothing to do with America.”
As recently as earlier Tuesday, June 19, the AP was reporting that President Donald Trump was defending his administration’s border-protection policies Monday in the face of rising national outrage over the forced separation of migrant children from their parents.
Calling for tough action against illegal immigration, Trump declared the U.S. “will not be a migrant camp” on his watch. The children involved are being held separately from parents who are being prosecuted under the administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy for illegal border crossings.
Nearly 2,000 children have been taken from their parents since the Trump administration announced its “zero tolerance” policy against people illegally entering the US.
In the event of rain, the rally will take place in the ETH gym. For more information, contact Mr Allyn at 203-270-9659, or visit Action Together CT
Associated Press content was used in this report.