Orange County

Protesters in Hillsborough denounce Trump, back DACA, support women’s issues

Robyn Bramow and William Brown (left to right in pink caps) listen as Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevenson makes his opening remarks at a women’s rally in front of the Orange County Courthouse in Hillsborough on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018.
Robyn Bramow and William Brown (left to right in pink caps) listen as Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevenson makes his opening remarks at a women’s rally in front of the Orange County Courthouse in Hillsborough on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. Special to The Herald-Sun

More than 500 people athered on the front Lawn of the Orange County Courthouse here Saturday to express their displeasure with the Trump Administration at a women’s rally late Saturday afternoon.

The “Women's March on Hillsborough-Orange County 2018” came on the first anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration and one of many similar rallies held all over the nation Saturday.

A drum circle led by the Boogie Holler performance art theater in Hillsborough kicked off the rally and events included about 10 speakers interspersed with musical performers.

Most there were women, but about 10 percent of the turnout was male.

“This is my second time around in the protest movement,” Barbara Gabriel of Chapel Hill said, “and the biggest change is the number of men. My very first protest was a women’s march (in 1965), and the only men there were the FBI and their cameras.”

Jose Campo came to support his wife Cindy and to express his outrage at President Trump. “This country has selected a con man as president,” he said, “and he’s sold people a bill of goods. Things might look OK right now but it’s going to collapse. He’s doing the same thing to the country that he did to his businesses.”

The Campos, who live between Hillsborough and Chapel Hill, traveled to Washington, D.C., last year to march in a rally there that drew nearly 500,000 people.

“I think that this shows that we can all get together and show the country,” Cindy Campo said of the Hillsborough rally and others around the country. Jose Campo said he hoped the rallies will encourage more people to vote.

Linda Williamson and Kay Stagner, who both grew up in Hillsborough and have been friends since fifth grade, came to the Hillsborough women’s rally last year and came back again this year. “Like that sign says,” Williamson said, pointing to a fellow protester’s sign, “ ‘We’re still here.’ It wasn’t just last year, and we’ll be here for the election.”

“It makes me really proud to be with so many strong women and the men who support them as a part of this big huge movement,” Stagner said.

Saturday’s federal government shutdown and the linked Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy that has allowed immigrants brought to the U.S. as children — the so-called Dreamers — to remain here was a common theme among speakers and protesters’ signs.

Speaker Nicole Peterson, a Latina activist who came to the U.S. from Costa Rica in 2015, was able to become a citizen because her father is American, but once here she met a Mexican immigrant who was one of the Dreamers. She said she thought at first he was referring to the John Lennon song “Imagine.” They ended up getting married.

“All these people are here looking to work and build their dreams,” Peterson said. “For all purposes, they are Americans. They are more American than I am or I will ever be because they grew up here. … We will not negotiate with our children. We will not throw anyone under the bus because we are here to build bridges and not walls.”

Featured speaker Fatma Mohammed Wasel is a Yemeni immigrant and activist with the Carolina Peace Center. She spoke about how Trump’s travel ban shutting off the U.S. from several Muslim-majority nations, has affected her friends and familey. She talked about Yemeni friends lived in nearby Djibouti for several months hoping to get to the U.S. from there, but in the end they were told they can’t and went back to war-torn Yemen.

“We have to make a change and say America has always been a country of refugees,” Wasel said.

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