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'Dissent Is Patriotic:' Activists Support Immigrants At Westchester Rally

Andrew Falk, one of the organizers of Social Justice Mondays, at the latest rally in downtown White Plains. Photo Credit: Ellie Houghtaling
Activists at the weekly social justice rally in White Plains on Monday. Photo Credit: Ellie Houghtaling
Monday's social justice in downtown White Plains. Photo Credit: Ellie Houghtaling
Activists at the latest "social justice rally" on Monday in downtown White Plains. Photo Credit: Ellie Houghtaling

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Shouting, “This is what democracy looks like!” and carrying signs proclaiming “Dissent is patriotic,” some 50 demonstrators protested President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration Monday during a lunch-hour rally in downtown White Plains.

The rally, at the fountain in Renaissance Plaza was organized by Social Justice Mondays, a coalition of groups that plans to hold demonstrations at the site every week to highlight a different social justice movement. The group’s first rally, on President’s Day, drew about 200 people.

Demonstrators this Monday chanted pro-immigration slogans, recited poet Emma Lazarus’ famed “huddled masses” sonnet The New Colossus and sang classic protest anthems. They brandished signs saying, “Dissent is Patriotic,” “I’m for Tolerance and Acceptance” and “I Stand with Immigrants and Refugees" while passing around a bullhorn.

“When you talk about social justice, for many, many groups, the lowest common denominator is income inequality,” Andrew Falk, one of the organizers of the rally, told the crowd. “That affects racial justice, it affects social justice, and it affects immigration. It’s one of our issues that brings us all together.”

Demonstrator Andrew Courtney, of Call to Action Hudson Valley, said he has been fighting for social justice in the lower Hudson Valley for 50 years. He said his group, initially involved in the Syrian refugee crisis, has expanded to include “all refugees as well as immigrant and those seeking asylum.” He said the group is now “focused on resettlement possibilities for Westchester and Rockland county.”

“You really cannot simply advocate for refugees without advocating for the people who are being pushed to the edges of our society,” Felice Gelman, also involved with Call to Action , said.

“Hopefully the majority of the American people feel the way we feel here,” said demonstrator Ellen Weinstein. “We are a country of diversity, of welcoming, of immigrants. Unfortunately, we now have an opportunity to show that we support the constitution and we welcome immigrants.”

White Plains Mayor Tom Roach and Westchester County Legislator Mary Jane Shimsky, D-Hastings-on-Hudson, also attended the rally.

Ellie Houghtaling is a member of the Purchase College Community Reporting Team.

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