On June 30, approximately 330 people gathered at Caldwell Park in Pocatello, Idaho for a march to protest the heinous immigration policies of the U.S. that separate and detain immigrant families. A protest of this magnitude is no small feat for a place where 17,000 people (51.4 percent of voters) voted for Donald Trump during the 2016 election. Kristin Dahlquist, one of the main organizers for this event, spoke about the importance of protests and demonstrations.
Passions quickly rose as other attendees stood up and gave impromptu speeches. One woman stressed the importance of protesting against Israel’s military occupation of Palestine and connected it to the war against immigrants and refugees in the United States. Before marching, this reporter led everyone in a chant, saying, “When our friends and neighbors are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” The activists then mobilized and began their march towards the Benton Street overpass. Demonstrators continued chanting as they marched over the bridge and into the Old Town District, “The people united will never be divided!”
During the march, this reporter was able to speak with some of the demonstrators about why they decided to join the protest. One immigrant woman stated that she was there for her daughter, an Idaho State University student who began receiving death threats online after she took part in a protest against war criminal and NRA head Oliver North at the Idaho Republican Convention, and House Rep. Priscilla Giddings posted her photo online to antagonize their protest.
Giddings had stopped to take a photo with the group under a false pretense of solidarity, only to publicize the picture with a threatening caption reading “Idaho State University students peacefully protesting our Republican convention. Do you think I should show these girls the empty 30mm shell I have in the truck?”
The mother stated, “[We’re] afraid to even leave the house. I’m worried that someone will recognize her from the photo and hurt her.” Giddings has yet to comment on her statement, but the girls pictured continue to receive harassment online and in person.
Despite the real threat of reactionary backlash, more than 300 people in the march continued through Main Street and made a short detour through the farmer’s market before heading back to Caldwell Park, where the protest was concluded with more speeches. One woman from the Shoshone-Bannock tribe thanked everyone for joining the demonstration and urged them to continue the fight for immigrants.
Stop the deportations! Full rights for all immigrants!