Rogue Valley Unites for “All Are Welcome Here” Rally in Ashland
Upon the release of news that Donald Trump had signed an executive order banning the entry of people from seven Muslim-majority nations last week, protesters immediately began to take action at airports across the United States. While we may lack an airport dedicated to international travelers, the Rogue Valley has also reacted to protect its Muslim-American and immigrant population.
After receiving calls and emails about a neo-Nazi truck driving around Ashland and the arrest of a man who had posted neo-Nazi and Islamophobic flyers around Ashland and Medford, Unite Oregon, the Racial Equity Coalition, and other social justice groups held the “All Are Welcome Here” rally at the Lithia Park Plaza in downtown Ashland.
Michelle Glass, Regional Director of the Rogue Valley Chapter of Unite Oregon, addressing the All Are Welcome Here crowd in downtown Ashland. (Photo by Allen Hallmark.)
The event began with volunteers from the Rogue Valley canvassing local businesses to post signs in support of all people, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, religion or country of origin. Shortly after, roughly 200 of people came pouring into the plaza to rally around the cause of standing up to Trump, his fascism, and the discriminatory policies he has already implemented.
The flyer now posted in Ashland businesses, created by the Main Street Alliance. (Photo by Allen Hallmark.)
The need for a powerful response to the hate promoted by the Trump regime was made clear by Michelle Glass, Regional Director of the Rogue Valley Chapter of Unite Oregon, who kicked off the rally by saying, “It’s not just posters. It’s not just hate speech. In addition, our organizations have received more than 120 reports of incidents of threat or violence based on race, ethnicity or religion in the last few months. These range from verbal attacks to physical assaults to racialized road rage to threats.”
Glass connected the incidents to the new Trump administration. “In addition, last Friday, the new administration signed an executive order targeting immigrants, refugees and Muslims. We know that today, as we gather here, people all over this country are being detained because of religion and their country of origin without due process and without access to legal counsel. We’re here to say that that is not okay.”
Alma Rosa Alvarez, founding member of the Racial Equity Coalition and an English professor at Southern Oregon University. (Photo by Allen Hallmark.)
At the event, several local news outlets, including CBS, ABC and NBC, were present to communicate the event to the larger Rogue Valley. Also at the rally was Ashland City Councilor Stefani Seffinger, who told the Ashland Daily Tidings, “I very much think hate doesn’t have a place in Ashland. My grandparents were illegal immigrants from Poland. I grew up knowing about prejudice. I feel strongly about inclusion.” Absent, however, was Ashland Mayor John Stromberg, who I had informed about the event earlier in the week.
After already hosting a rally in Medford and, now, Ashland, Unite Oregon will be taking the fight to Talent and Phoenix, where it plans to host its next rally. It’s my hope that Ashland’s mayor and the mayors of other cities in the valley will meet at some point, potentially at such a rally, to discuss how the Rogue Valley as a whole can address the hate incidents that have occurred and how we can unite the Valley more broadly.
For those that witness or are subject to any of incidents of hate, use the form on this page to report it to Unite Oregon and the Racial Equality Coalition.