A large crowd gathered in Marshall Park in uptown Charlotte Monday afternoon. The rally, organized by immigrant activist group Comunidad Colectiva, was in response to recent ICE arrests throughout the state including Charlotte.
Chants flooded Marshall Park as organizers joined together, protesting recent ICE raids in which roughly 200 people were arrested.
People held signs that read “Stop Separating Families," "ICE out of Charlotte" and "Immigrants Make America Great."
Kelly Mcreel had a special message on her homemade sign:
“Like my sign says today: ‘Jesus is a brown immigrant’ and so just recognizing that — to stand in authenticity in my faith — I have to understand by welcoming Christ and welcoming the neighbors, that’s important.”
For Brazilian immigrant Giselle Werneck Salgado, it wasn’t so much a sign but a shirt she was wearing that shared her message. She became a citizen in 2012. Her shirt had 287(g) written and crossed out — in reference to the federal program which detains jail inmates who are not legal citizens. The program was recently ended in Mecklenburg County by order of Sheriff Garry McFadden.
“I’ve told everyone who is Brazilian to come out and support if they can, especially if you have papers because it’s a lot safer to do so," she said. "But I think it will show people that are afraid that they are not alone.”
Blanca Hernandez from Union County was doing just that. She legally emigrated from Mexico about three years ago but had been working in the states on a visa before that. Hernandez said she doesn’t carry her passport on her and she worries about these raids becoming more regular.
“Why are these things happening? And when they say this is the 'normal,' it’s just outrageous," she said. "I don’t know how to tell you how scary it is for me.”
ICE has said it's targeting people who are in the country illegally with criminal records. Even still, Hernandez said she’s heard reports of legal citizens being arrested under the assumption they were in the country illegally.