MANSFIELD — More than 100 people gathered on Mansfield’s North Common Saturday in unity with thousands of people in cities nationwide to rally against President Donald Trump’s immigration policy and the separation of families at the U.S. border.
The two-hour local rally — part of 700 such protests throughout the country — was organized by the Democratic Town Committee of Mansfield and included Sen. Paul Feeney, D-Foxboro, and State Rep. Jim Hawkins, D-Attleboro.
Feeney told the crowd he was proud of them for attending.
“Trump made an immoral decision to separate families,” Feeney said. “That’s an atrocity. It’s important that we stick together. Policies like this won’t stop happening unless we rise up and do something about it. It’s not a Republican issue, it’s not a Democratic issue, it’s about who we are as a country.”
Hawkins was also pleased to see a large turnout.
“I think it shows a lot of people are very upset about what’s happening with the families,” Hawkins said.
Deborah Snyder, chairwoman of the Democratic Town Committee, invited others to come to the microphone and speak. One speaker, Chris George, a Mansfield resident, said he had witnessed too many “tragic, sad and demoralizing situations” in the past to be silent any longer.
“I’ve had enough,” George said. “I can’t remain an introvert in the shadows while humanity suffers in our America. What we see happening at our borders and across the country is a fire burning out of control.”
Another man then came up to speak, but was cut off by the crowd when he expressed a differing viewpoint.
Some people, however, hoped the man would have continued to speak, such as Mansfield resident Barry Jennings, who moved to the United States from England in 1979.
“I do believe in freedom of speech,” Jennings said. “We should listen to all sides. No one party is right all the time.”
Lindsay Kenney, Feeney’s campaign manager for re-election, then led the protestors in cries of “The people united will never be defeated,” “Immigrant rights are under attack, what do we do? Unite, fight back!” and “Love, not hate, makes America great.”
As they clapped their hands in time with the chants and held signs, the protestors stood at the corner of North Main and Chauncy streets, where a chorus of honking car horns in support blended with further chants of “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here.”
Some signs read, “Immigration Built This Nation” and “Hate Has No Home Here.” Another questioned: “Where Are The Kids?”
Several protestors crossed to the other side of the street, holding their own signs and chanting, and a few others stood in the median at the intersection.
“I think it’s awesome; I think it’s wonderful,” Snyder said as she walked around the common. “I’m impressed we could get this number of people in Mansfield.”
Ellen Courchene of Norwood and her family originally planned to attend the protest rally in Boston, but when there was a conflict with the train schedule, chose to attend the one in Mansfield.
Courchene was proud to be a part of a rally in a smaller town.
“I wanted to be one number, along with my family, to say that what is going on today with immigration is immoral, unethical and wrong, and not the values this country has always stood for,” Courchene said.