Sometimes it’s easy to feel disconnected from national issues while living in Juneau.
As some concerned Juneauites watch national news stories about a military presence on the U.S.-Mexico border, families being separated and people being deported, they still feel they can make a difference.
Catherine Hatch, who describes herself as a “longtime worrier and first-time activist,” is one of them.
“We’re far away from the border, but we do have federal representation,” Hatch said. “That’s why we have elected officials and would love for them to take a stand against what’s going on.”
Hatch is part of a group planning on rallying Saturday morning outside the Andrew P. Kashevaroff building that houses the Alaska State Library, Archives and Museum (the state museum is not involved in the event). The protest, organized by Juneau People for Peace and Justice (JPPJ), is scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to noon.
The rally will feature speakers including Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA) President Chalyee Éesh Richard Peterson; Deacon Charles Rohrbacher; Libby Bakalar, a lawyer and concerned citizen; Gloria Orozco, owner of El Zarape; Manni Guillen, Gloria’s son; and Christianne Carrillo, an artist. There will also be music from Tony Tengs. Speakers have been advised to speak for five minutes or less to keep the event moving quickly.
Attendees are invited to make signs, and to sign a petition being sent to Alaska’s Congressional Delegation — Rep. Don Young and Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan. People are also invited to make donations to Border Angels, a nonprofit that focuses on immigration reform and social justice particularly on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Afterward, people are welcome at Sacred Grounds Cafe (located in the nearby Andrew Hope Building) to write letters to their representatives in Congress. That’s the first of two letter-writing events associated with the rally, and is scheduled to go from noon to 2 p.m. Starting at 2 p.m., organizers of the rally are heading downtown and gathering at Devil’s Club Brewing Company for more letter writing.
The rally is part of a nationwide movement called Love Knows No Borders, which invites people to make their voices heard between Dec. 10 (International Human Rights Day) and Dec. 18 (International Migrant Day). There are three main demands that protesters in Juneau and around the country have. They ask that the U.S. government respect the human right to migrate and seek asylum; that the government end border militarization; and that the government ends immigrant detention and deportation and reduces funding for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Amy Paige from JPPJ and Hatch said they believe that the rhetoric from the Trump Administration has sparked a wave of anti-immigration attitudes in the country. Paige said organizations such as Border Angels are working with people trying to get into the country, and the work that they’re doing paints a different picture than what is really happening at the border.
“It just seems that so much of what we hear from the administration in Washington about demonizing people who are coming is not borne out by the people in these groups who have been on the ground with people who are desperately fleeing violent situations and need to seek asylum,” Paige said.
Juneau residents haven’t been shy about voicing their concerns on national topics. Throughout this year, multiple protests sprung up urging Murkowski and Sullivan to vote against the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee (and now Justice) Brett Kavanaugh. Hatch was adamant that even though Juneau is far away from the epicenter of these issues, the community is still a microcosm of the world as a whole.
“We don’t have a wall in Juneau or any kind of ICE necessarily,” Hatch said. “That doesn’t mean deportation doesn’t happen here, that doesn’t mean we don’t have a history of not always being so great to our immigrants. Especially in this season, it’s all about inviting people to be welcoming and kind.”
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.