On Wednesday afternoon, members of the Latino community and their supporters in Columbia County will hold a “Procession for Respect and Dignity” in the city of St. Helens, despite threats and intimidation attempts the organizers say they have received.
In November, voters in largely rural Columbia County passed a ballot measure that would fine employers for hiring undocumented immigrants. A county judge issued an injunction Feb. 2 that prevents the bill from taking effect, but immigrant rights advocates say the dialogue around the issue has gotten ugly.
“The vitriol is becoming even more violent and disturbing,” writes Amy Dudley of the Rural Organizing Project. She says comments on local blogs advocate things like throwing acid in the faces of ROP lawyers. “It is now commonplace to walk into a coffee shop or feed & seed and hear a loud pronouncement on just how this person would deal with illegals.”
The church where the march was originally slated to begin received harrassing phone calls and backed out, according to Dudley. The group is calling for supporters to join the walk in the hope that stronger numbers of peaceful protesters will prevent any interactions with counter-protesters from becoming volatile.
“We have a situation that we do not want to spiral out of control around us,” Dudley writes. “This procession is happening. But it will happen with much better calm, the more peaceful allies who travel in to show solidarity.”
The details, from Dudley:
WHAT: Members of the Columbia County Latino community and their allies will join together for a Procession for Respect and Dignity. The walk is a public demonstration of the faces of Columbia County’s Latino community that have been under attack for the last eighteen months by anti-immigrant ballot measures.
WHEN: Wednesday, Feb. 18, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. Procession starts at 4:45. Peaceful signs and participants welcome.
WHERE: St. Helens, Oregon. Starting at the First Christian Church at 185 S 12th in St Helens, and ending at the County Courthouse.
WHO: New community organization Latinos Unidos para un Futuro Mejor, in collaboration with Columbia County Citizens for Human Dignity, and with support from Rural Organizing Project and CAUSA.
Where is this going to start if the church backed out?
Too late now, but the church that’s listed is a different one, which they found after the first backed out. Sorry for any confusion.