Hundreds Gather in West Hollywood for Lauren Meister’s Families Belong Together Rally

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Families Belong Together Rally - West Hollywood - Photo by Paulo Murillo

Hundreds braved the heat and gathered in West Hollywood today to join a nationwide call to action with a Families Belong Together rally to protest against the immigration crisis caused by the Trump Administration with their disastrous and inhumane family separation policy at the country’s borders.

West Hollywood councilmember Loren Meister lead the call for humane and sane immigration policies at the West Hollywood Park on San Vicente Boulevard. Her line of speakers ranged from activists, entertainers, politicians, WeHo city officials and WeHo residents. Speakers included Chaz Bono, Rob Reiner, West Hollywood Mayor John Duran, Sepi Shyne, Eugene Jarecki, long time WeHo resident Ivy Bottini, Steve Rohde and Michael Aguilera, and District Representative for Congressman Adam Schiff.

“Thousands of children are still in facilities far away from their parents,” said Congressman Schiff, via a written statement read by Aguilera. “Despite statements to the contrary by the president, it is unclear when they’ll be re-united and if the administration truly ended its cruel policy of family separation. Congress must hold this administration accountable and I’ll continue my work with colleagues to find a compassionate immigration policy. Remember West Hollywood, this policy was not an accident. We remember when Mr. Kelly talked about how this would be deterrent, this was on purpose and it meant to be cruel and we cannot stand for that in West Hollywood or across the country.”

Ivy Bottini – Photo by Paulo Murillo

Another speaker who made an impact was longtime human rights activist Bottini, who pulled no punches when addressing the crowd.

“I probably won’t be too popular for saying what I’m about to say, but we really are a lazy community,” she yelled from the podium. “We have been too safe for too long and we think it’s how its going to stay. It’s not going to stay. We are on the brink of losing it. And there will people in this community. In this crowd that will not vote in November!”

Then she led the crowd in a chant of “Shame! Shame! Shame!”

“If you haven’t voted and you aren’t registered, please do so,” she stressed. “November is so important. At 92, it feels like this is where I’m supposed to be saying this: Get off your asses and bring back Act Up. Bring it back! Bring it Back… they were fearless. Fearless! I don’t want to hear after the vote in November that we lost. And then I don’t want to hear people say, ‘Oh, I was so tired. I was so tired and it was only one vote…’–yes, it could be the one vote. All you need is one to have a majority. I’m on your tail and I’m watching you.”

West Hollywood Council Member Lauren Meister – Photo by Paulo Murillo

Councilmember Meister also had a moment of silence in memory of the five people that were murdered in Thursday’s horrific shooting at the Capital Gazette in Indianapolis Maryland. It was also a show of solidarity and support for the free press.

Signage at the rally did not mince words. They varied from, “Save Children, Dump Trump,” “Who Would Jesus Deport?” “Jail Trump’s Kids” “Kids Aren’t Criminals, Trump Is,” and some signs simply read “Fuck Trump.”

The event ended with the crowd singing This Land is Your Land–a folk song written by American folk singer Woody Guthrie in 1940.

Families Belong Together protests happened nationwide following the executive order that Donald Trump signed this week, which keeps kids imprisoned indefinitely, and doesn’t reunite thousands of separated families. Though it is not a solution to the crisis created by Trump and his administration, it does show that public pressure is working. To continue the pressure for justice, thousands of people across the nation gathered to say that families belong together—and free. Most of the events were organized at act.moveon.org.

Correction: This article originally claimed an attendance of thousands. While the rally was well and largely attended, the numbers most likely range in the upper hundreds. An official number has not been released as of this correction (July 3, 2018).

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Paulo Murillo
Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings close to 20 years of experience in LGBT media and more than two decades as a West Hollywood resident. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. Murillo’s work has appeared in numerous print and online publications. He was a contributor to LGBT magazine IN Los Angeles. He is known for the “Hot Topic” column in Frontiers magazine, in which he covered breaking news and local events in the City of West Hollywood. His recent work has been published in the Los Angeles Blade and his articles, essays and photographs can also be seen on the pages of THE FIGHT Magazine. He started “The Share” feature for THE FIGHT, which spotlights members of the Los Angeles recovery community who share about their sober journey. He can be reached at editor@wehotimes.com