"Lights for Liberty" vigils were held around the world on July 12. Demonstrators called for an end to the human detention camps used by the United States along its border with Mexico.
Around 100 people participated in the vigil in Galesburg. The rally took place in Central Park in the shadow of the towering bronze statue of Carl Sandburg, the Pulitzer Prize winning writer and activist who grew up in Galesburg.
It was a peaceful gathering. Many sat in lawn chairs as they listened to speakers. They sang along with Jon Wagner, retired professor of Anthropology at Knox College, as he sang This Land is Your Land, and joined in with Pam Davidson of Knox County Democrats for This Little Light of Mine.
As day turned to night, they lit candles and observed a moment of silence for refugees who are enduring inhumane conditions in the detention camps.
Here is a sampling of what the speakers had to say:
Dr. Karen Kampwirth from the Department of Political Science at Knox College: Small towns that welcome refugees are growing. They save their schools. They save their programs. They save their quality of life and they enhance it. Galesburg should be promoting immigration and particularly resettlement of those refugees as a development policy.
Emiliano Vera, candidate for the Democratic Party nomination in Illinois House District 93: It is important that everyone out here stand up against the inhuman treatment of people that the Trump administration has taken to new and grotesque heights. But our cruelty toward migrants and refugees did not begin with Trump, and removing him from office in 2020 will only end the very worst abuses. All of us here must stand up not only today, and not only on November 3, 2020, but we must continue to show up and demand that this predatory system of hunting out and detaining immigrants is ended altogether.
David Amor, President of United Against Hate: It’s really encouraging to see that so many people care deeply about what’s happening in our country, a care that manifests itself in sympathy and concern for the asylum seekers and their families who are seeking protection in our land of liberty. But also a care that shows itself in anger at the callousness and lawlessness of an administration that is trying to rewrite American values and take us back to the fear, nativism, and racism of 100 years ago.
Reverend Vince Marolla, ordained Lutheran pastor: I think what we can do as people who care, as people who understand what’s going on, as people who are horrified by what’s going on, is I think we have the power to change the conversation. Because what is often forgotten in this debate is the fact that all of us are human beings created in the good image of the creator.
Jeremy Karlin from Temple Sholom and candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for Knox County State's Attorney: It is our purpose here tonight and every day going forward that we will fight those people who would seek to extinguish that flame and that we will work tirelessly again to make our nation a light onto the world.
Pam Davidson of Knox County Democrats: We need to come together as a country, as a people, to stand for human beings. So I’m asking you -- I’m begging you today with this candle, this light in your hand -- let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!