Leaders stopped traffic in downtown Minneapolis to protest deportations and raids and call for driver's license reforms in Indiana, Iowa, and Minnesota, a few of the states represented at the weekend Civil Rights of Immigrants campaign leaders retreat.
Leaders from seven states and as far away as Georgia gathered in Minnesota to discuss strategy for the coming year, share information on dealing with raids, and renew ties after a year of campaigning the last weekend in February.
The CRI retreat kicked off with an action at the Hennepin County Government Center & Federal Courthouse in Minneapolis.They called for Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton to sign an executive order supporting drivers licenses for all. Leaders from other states facing similar issues spoke in solidarity and the group also marched past the federal courthouse nearby, protesting deportation raids by the Obama Administration.
“I would rather be arrested committing civil disobedience standing up for my mom’s rights than for her to get arrested for driving without a license," said Melina Tapia, Columbia Heights, Age 11. "I am making this choice, because this struggle continues until all are free.”
Retreat in Little Falls, MN
Asamblea de Derechos Civiles, a longtime ally that recently became a Gamaliel affiliate, hosted the retreat. Emerging and seasoned immigration leaders from Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota attended the retreat, an annual event.
They laid out plans for civic engagement and strengthening their organizations. Jack Hayn of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades joined the group by video to lay out results from an emerging partnership between Gamaliel and IUPAT. Together WISDOM and IUPAT have already helped find several contractors who were stealing wages from employees in Wisconsin, for example.
Attendees at CRI also remembered Training Director John Norton, honoring him with t-shirts and telling stories about his legacy and impact he left on those he trained.