BEACON, N.Y. -- Hundreds of people from around the region gathered recently in Beacon to declare their intentions to make the Hudson Valley a “Hate-Free Zone.”
Organized by the groups Community Voices Heard and Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson, the event was held at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and drew people from Dutchess, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Ulster and Columbia counties.
The movement is, they said, a response to President-elect Donald J. Trump’s remarks about deporting millions of undocumented immigrants.
It was also spurred, organizers said, because of the continued oppression of the vulnerable, such as blacks, women, Muslims, Jews, workers and members of the LGBTQ community.
Their vision specifically includes a Hudson Valley where sanctuary policies protect immigrants from deportation and give them access to driver’s licenses.
They said they would like to see a world that invests in “public education instead of mass incarceration” and favors “measures that choose solidarity over hate.”
Organizers pointed to communities that have already taken steps towards preventing attacks on undocumented immigrants.
The Common County in Ulster County’s Kingston, for instance, recently adopted a resolution declaring that the city was welcoming and inclusive toward undocumented immigrants and wouldn’t be asking crime victims, witnesses, or other people who come in contact with police for low-level matters such as traffic infractions about their immigration status.
According to organizers, the Hudson Common Council is working on a sanctuary resolution and the Ossining Village Board has passed a resolution supporting access to driver's licenses for all immigrants, including the undocumented.
Alfredo, an immigrant who wanted to be identified by his first name only, told the gathering that he had a vision for the Hudson Valley as a place where he can talk “without fear” and where he’s treated “as an equal.”
As a member of Community Voices Heard and leader of the "Hate-Free Zone," Alfredo said he wanted “to create something for future generations based on understanding and love.”
Individuals or institutions such as community organizations, houses of worship and businesses can pledge their support for the "Hate-Free Zone," or get further involved by visiting tiny.cc/hatefreepledge.
Gatherings like last Saturday’s are only the tip of the iceberg, said Dominique Suddith, a member of Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson.
“What’s next is to take into consideration what happened today, look at our pledges, and turn it into action,” she said, adding: “This is just the beginning.”
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