Hundreds of people from South Orange and surrounding communities attended a rally on Monday to show solidarity with immigrant and Muslim communities and to call for South Orange to become a “Sanctuary Community.” Held in Spiotta Park, the rally was organized by the newly-formed SOMA Action group.
Featured speakers included immigrant and Muslim community members Kambiz Roghanchi, Nureed Saeed, Ashraf Latif, and Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Professor of Race, History, and Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Additional speakers were author/journalist Krystal Sital, South Orange Village President Sheena Collum, and Maplewood Mayor Victor DeLuca.
There were 250 people in attendance at the rally, and roughly 100 then marched to the Baird Center to speak at the monthly South Orange Legal and Personnel Committee meeting to urge town officials to pass a resolution making South Orange a Sanctuary City, said SOMA Action member Kelly Quirk.
Speakers stressed the need to provide a community that is safe for all residents, whether documented or not. Some spoke of how their parents and families immigrated from countries on the list of seven recently banned by Pres. Donald J. Trump’s recent executive order. “They spoke of contributions their families and Muslim communities have made in our country, and the fear they have of being targeted,” said Quirk.