By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer (Northborough)
and Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer (Westborough)
Northborough/Westborough – Rallies were held in Northborough and Westborough June 30, as part of a nationwide initiative protesting the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents as the families illegally enter the United States via the Texas border.
Although President Donald Trump, after a fierce public outcry, changed his mind, reversing that policy on June 20, and ordered that families can no longer be separated, approximately 2,000 children have still not been reunited with their families. Organizers hoped the rallies on June 30, which were held all over the country, would put pressure on the administration to rectify that situation as quickly as possible.
Northborough organizers Patrick Brady, Lindsay Brady and Lindsay’s mother Leslie Williams, had only 10 days to organize the event after asking themselves what they personally could do to advocate for keeping families together.
“We thought about marching in Boston or Washington, D.C,” said Williams, “but we asked ourselves, ‘Why not Northborough?’”
They worked out the logistics with town officials but noted they really had no idea of what the participation was going to be like.
That morning about 150 peaceful protestors of all ages participated in the rally which was held at Ellsworth-McAfee Park.
The organizers thought the turnout and the energy at the event was “incredible”. The summer heat didn’t deter people from lining the street outside of the park area displaying signs and taking shade when needed under the pavilion.
“People are starting to see that coming together in person gives you hope and makes you feel less alone,” said Williams.
Participant Judy Sugarman agreed.
“Being a part of today’s well organized and attended get together and demonstration and being with others who feel the same way I do, helped to lift my spirits,” she said. “Every day of this administration has been frustrating and depressing. Speaking up, voicing my opinion, fighting for others has been important to me- even more so now. Standing on Route 135 with others, holding signs, having drivers beeping their horns, and waving, gives the feeling that others agree. What is most important is to keep going, not give up, get eligible voters to register and then vote in November.”
Lindsay Brady said the expectation is to have another gathering later in the summer and in the meantime use social media as a means to keep the conversation going.
In Westborough, protesters from as far as Sturbridge, Mass. filled the downtown rotary. The latest of several recent protests in town held on the rotary, organizers said they were proud to be bringing politics to a local stage.
The protest, which included men and women of all ages, as well as children holding signs and peacefully waving to passersby, lasted throughout the day and came as the culmination to weeks of work by Cristin Hodgens and her group, Westborough WAVE of Women.
“I couldn’t sleep at night at the thought of children being separated from their families,” she said. “So I had to do something.”
Hodgens has been a fixture of political activism in Westborough and elsewhere in Mass. ever since the nationwide Women’s Marches in January 2017 reintroduced her to activism. After attending the march herself, Hodgens returned to Westborough with a sign and quickly started holding it in the rotary.
Hodgens said she was happy with the overall outcome of the protest June 30. As she and her fellow demonstrators smiled and waved at passing cars, some drivers responded angrily, with at least one shouting “lock em up” in reference to the immigrant families, according to Hodgens. But many more honked, waved back, or even joined Hodgens on the rotary later in the day.
Going forward, she and other organizers are eager to remain locally visible and vocal in a time of intense political turmoil.
“I would like to think that I would take care of my neighbors, that my neighbors would take care of me,” she said. “I think it’s important to have local conversations about politics because that’s where most politics are shaped.”