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Hundreds rally against immigration law

Posted on August 30, 2011
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bill 56 protestsPeople gather in front of the Alabama State Capitol to protest against Alabama House Bill 56 on Sunday evening, Aug. 28, 2011, in Montgomery, Ala.

Just days before Alabama’s strict immigration law is to go into effect, hundreds rallied in front of the state Capitol to protest the law, which makes it a state crime to be an undocumented alien in Alabama and for undocumented aliens to work in the state, among other provisions.

The organizer of the event, Edward Menefee, invoked the name of the Rev. Martin Lu ther King Jr. and his famous “I have a dream” speech, which he delivered 48 years ago Sun­day.

“(King) preached about the beloved community, where all people would be welcomed and all people would be treated with respect,” Menefee said to the crowd.

“We’re here today as a stand of solidarity, that we are all in this community together, that we all have the same dreams of justice and opportunity.”

Two state senators, Hank Sanders, D-Selma, and Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery, both said that they were there to stand with the crowd and that they were “ashamed” of the law.

“Although we are in the minority, we will continue to fight on behalf of all Alabamians, which includes you and me,” Ross said to applause.

All of the speeches made Sunday were translated into Spanish.

Perhaps the most rousing testimony came from Pastor Gualberto Villegas, translated by Alex Rios. Villegas said it’s unfair that all Hispanics are depicted as “terrorists or delinquents.”

“We are people, (and) what we want is just to make our lives better, because there are dreams in us too,” Villegas said. To the many children in the crowd, Villegas said, “There are young people right here that are going to be the future doctors, the future senators, the future lawyers.

“They cannot stop us from dreaming that.”

Some in the crowd brought candles to light together, as a reflection of their solidarity.

The benediction came from the Rev. Robert Graetz, who was a close friend of King and who has been at the forefront of civil rights for more than 60 years.

“Give us courage, Lord, and give us strength to stand against oppression,” Graetz offered in prayer.

After the event, Graetz talked about the bill, and compared it to the same battles he’s been fighting for so many decades.

“This is just a more vicious expression,” Graetz said.

Earlier, a prayer was offered by the Rev. Elizabeth O’Neill of Immanuel Presbyterian Church, who announced that another rally will be held at her church, 8790 Vaughn Road, from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday — the day the bill is supposed to go into effect.

Menefee, Sunday’s organizer, is the co-founder of a group called VamosTogether, a grass roots effort that its website says is working for civil rights and social justice.

Allison Griffin

29 Aug 2011

http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/article/20110829/NEWS01/108290313/Hundreds-rally-against-immigration-law?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Frontpage|p

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