Across the country, tensions are rising between proponents and opponents of Arizona Senate’s Bill 1070 which modifies Arizona immigration law to allow racial profiling. While some fight against racial profiling and classifying any immigrants as “illegal” immigrants, others argue immigrants who live in the United States without a legal identity should be found and deported because they break American laws and undermine the American job market.
As the implementation of Bill 1070 draws near, anxiety and emotion on both sides of the debate has heightened, sometimes resulting in violence.
That was not the case in Galesburg on Saturday, thanks to a group of Knox students who organized a march against the Bill, showing support for the Mexican population in Galesburg and across the country. The organizers were members of Knox groups Alliance for Peaceful Action and Estudiantes sin Fronteras/Students without Boarders.
These students brought our larger community together, including Galesburg residents, in an effort to show the solidarity between Knox and Galesburg, between one race and another. This is very impressive.
The “town vs. gown” attitude that seems to poison the relationship between Knox and the town it calls home was absent during Saturday’s march. So often the interests of the Knox community and the Galesburg community differ, but so often they are closely aligned. It is a shame that it took a controversial piece of legislation in a different time zone to break down the barrier between the two. Perhaps we can learn from that and work to develop a sense of unity with those outside the bubble all year round.
What was also impressive was the ability of the marchers to show support for each other and their cause without violent confrontation. They obtained a permit to march on the sidewalk and brushed off any negative feedback. People are going to have opposite opinions and it is important to persuade your opponents with logic, not force. By showing their support for Galesburg’s Mexican community, these marchers surely caused passerby’s to think twice about their reaction to Bill 1070.
Any student who is hoping to invoke change with activism should take note of these efforts organized by APA and ESF. They have shown us how protest: by showing support for their cause without obstructing others and resorting to violence. Additionally, they have turned protest into a positive and healthy community activity; an activity based on the concept of unity and not an “us and them” attitude.
Immigrants have obviously played an important role in American history and continue to make great contributions to the stability of the United States. Mexican-Americans have also been a large portion of Galesburg’s history and success. It was wonderful to see such support for the community, regardless of its distance from Arizona.
Thank you, APA and ESF for providing a space for people to show their support against Bill 1070. Thank you as well for further closing the gap between Knox and Galesburg. Your efforts are truly commendable.