Marchers protesting immigration, border policies fill Minneapolis streets

Clarence Richard of Minnetonka, Minn. holds a doll in a cage.
Clarence Richard of Minnetonka, Minn. holds a doll in a cage Sunday during a march and rally in Minneapolis calling for an end to the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border and in Minnesota through deportation. "Our own government is keeping kids in cages," said Jeff Edelstein, a friend of Richard. "How can this be happening in our country?"
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

As the storm clouds cleared out, the march began.

A crowd estimated at more than 1,000 people gathered in south Minneapolis on Sunday to protest the Trump administration's immigration and border policies.

From the Kmart parking lot at the corner of Nicollet and Lake, they marched — waving banners and cardboard signs, and spanning two city blocks at a time — to the First Universalist Church of Minneapolis.

Once there, speakers shared their stories and spoke against the separation of families, threats of deportation and other federal actions that have made headlines for months. President Trump has made stricter immigration and border control a signature issue of his campaign and presidency.

Imad Mohamed carries his nephew, Ahmad Eltayeb during the march.
While holding the American and Sudanese flags, Imad Mohamed carries his 4-year-old nephew, Ahmad Eltayeb, during the Stop Separating Families march and rally Sunday.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

High school English teacher Kaia Hirt was among those in the crowd Sunday. The mother of two said that she is heartsick about what's happening at the U-S Mexico border.

"I have two children and if someone were to forcibly take my children away, and then refuse them medical care and make them sleep on the floor, I don't know what I would do," she said. "It's unconscionable and it has to stop."

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Hirt was joined by two 17-year-old students, Daemeah Karbeah and Katherine Cannon, who had messaged her before the march and asked for a ride to the march.

Karbeah's parents fled from civil war in Liberia and lived in a refugee camp before eventually moving to the United States.

Karbeah said she has sympathy for kids whose parents brought them to the U.S.

"I feel like children are innocent. ... They didn't have the choice. Also, a lot of times they're escaping things that are a lot worse," she said. "Even if they came here illegally, they still shouldn't be treated as animals."

Cannon said it's important for young people to be politically active.

More than 1000 people march to call for an end to family separations.
A crowd of more than 1,000 people marches from the intersection of Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue to the First Universalist Church of Minneapolis on Sunday.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

"I think it's important that people my age come to events like this because what's going on is not OK. And we learn in history class about the horrible things that happened in past lifetimes. And you always sit and question, 'Why did everyone let that happen?' — and it's happening right now.

"I think it's important that people take action while we still can so that we don't end up asking that question in your children's history class. Saying, 'Why did everyone let this happen?' I hope that adults can see that the younger generations know what's going on and that they choose to take action."

Sunday's march was organized by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Elsewhere among the throngs of banners and signs, Jeff Edelstein and his wife Bev painted a vivid picture. The pair brought a small dog cage to the march; it had three baby dolls inside.

"Children are isolated. There's no one to care for them. Older kids caring for younger kids. They're in filthy conditions. They're not being fed," Jeff Edelstein said. "This is unconscionable. How could this be happening in our country? The wealthiest country in the world?"

As the march made its way through the streets, an organizer called out to the crowd in Spanish and English:

"So we're going to say, 'Como logramos?' (How do we succeed?)... and you guys are going to say 'Luchando! Luchando!'"

"Luchando!" the crowd replied.

"Does anybody know what luchando means?"

"Fighting," many crowd members chimed in, to the delight of the organizers.

"Right — you know because you're out here fighting."