COOS BAY — Hundreds of Coos County residents chanted, "Keep Families Together" over and over as they lined up along the Coos Bay Boardwalk Saturday, to protest President Trump’s "zero tolerance" immigration policy.
Pimm protests Saturday during a Keep Families Together rally Saturday along U.S. Highway 101 in downtown Coos Bay.
The protest, which was a part of a series of rallies across the United States, began about 11:30 a.m. and continued on for about three hours. A small group of protesters branched off to march south on Highway 101 and then looped back around toward Broadway. The group held signs and waved them up and down as cars drove by.
Cameron Langley, a 17-year-old Marshfield High School student, helped organize the protest and did so out of realizing he needed to do something more than just watch from the sidelines.
“I felt I had to stand up for people who were being torn apart from their families,” said Langley. “I am extremely proud to see how much people came out to support this cause.”
The ‘zero tolerance’ policy began in May and mandated that any adult who crossed the U.S. border illegally be automatically criminally prosecuted for their actions. As a result, children who accompanied those adults would be separated as their parents or guardians waited in adult detention facilities.
“I saw what the Trump administration was doing to immigrants, throwing kids in facilities with very poor conditions,” said Langley. “I just wanted to send a message that we cannot accept xenophobia, we cannot accept oppression and we cannot accept this tyranny that is being put onto undocumented immigrants and their children.”
According to a U.S. Department of Homeland Security report, from May 5 to June 9 about 2,342 children were separated from 2,206 adults. On June 20, Trump signed an executive order to stop family separations after receiving backlash from various organizations and the general public. Afterward, a California federal judge ordered U.S. immigration authorities to reunite families separated at the border within a time frame of 30 days.
Coos Bay resident and protester Ross Lorenzo said it was difficult for him to see the faces of the children that were being separated on his television.
“It’s just a shame,” said Lorenzo. “This isn’t the American I know. We’ve got a responsibility to look after these children because they are the next generation.”
Bandon residents Marie Starr and Gordon Norman were also in attendance and said they wanted to come out and show their support for the families affected. The two waved a large American flag with a peace symbol. Starr said they hope the flag shows that American is about peace and love and not violence or abuse.
The protest attracted numerous honks from people driving their vehicles downtown who shouted out words of support. According to some attendees, a black van did drive down going north on Highway 101 with a large Confederate flag that read “Come and Take It,” with a rifle printed on it in opposition of the protesters.
Langley said he will continue hosting more protest touching upon a variety of issues he is concerned about.
“We are just going to keep pushing on and keep the resisting,” said Langley.